They put out an energetic effort Wednesday afternoon, but all they got at the end was a lot of tears and a chicken sandwich lunch as they fell 83-75 to top-seeded ETSU here in the quarterfinals at the University Center on the campus of Mercer University.
“We came here really believing we could win this tournament,” Lady Bisons’ coach Frank Bennett said. “The team has really made a lot of progress over the past couple of weeks and had really worked hard thanks to our senior leadership, but we couldn’t quite pull it off.
“I was really proud of our team and how hard it played and how together our players played.”
The No. 8 Lady Bisons knew it would be a major upset if they pulled off the quarterfinal win. The Lady Bisons had lost their previous 10 meetings with ETSU. The top seeds in the A-Sun Tournament are 15-1 overall against the No. 8 seed.
The Lady Bisons led 35-33 at the half and appeared to be on their way to the upset.
In the second half ETSU, the three-time A-Sun Tournament Champion, used a combination of a layups and free throws to take control for most of the second half.
“Give ETSU credit,” Bennett said. “They really drove the ball to the basket well.
“When you get down against them they are a tough team to play catch with because they are the best free throw shooting team in the conference.”
Senior guard Jenna Bartsokas and junior guard Anna Bowers tied for the team lead in scoring with 18 points apiece. Bartsokas was confident the Lady Bisons would be able to win after the first 20 minutes.
“I don’t think we even hit our shots that well in the first half,” Bartsokas said. “I know Val (Bronson) went out with two quick fouls.
“So going into the second half I knew Val would play the whole second half and we were going to hit our shots. I just had all of the confidence in the world.”
Also in double figures for the Lady Bisons were Bronson with 15 points and forward Hannah Phillips with 14.
The Lady Bisons shot 37.9 from the field while ETSU shot 38.6, including a 48.5 percent success rate in the second half.
Phillips also led the Lady Bisons in rebounds with seven.
The Lady Bisons lost the battle of the boards with ETSU holding a 52-29 advantage and a 23-15 edge in offensive rebounds. Jasmine McIntosh led ETSU with nine rebounds.
ETSU also placed four players in double figures. Gwen Washington came off of the bench to score a game-high 24. Tara Davis added 23. Shawn Randall chipped in 12 and Natalie Pickwell finished with 11.
“Gwen Washington was really hard to guard,” Bennett said. “She was a real force.
“Tara Davis really played well for ETSU. She knocked down a lot of free throws late in the game.”
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.