ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WJHL) – For a third time this season, the Mocs bested the Bucs on the hardwood, stifling ETSU all afternoon long in the SoCon semfinals, 69-40.
The Blue and Gold started a bit slowly, trailing 10-5 midway through the opening frame. But, a quick burst fueled by a pair of three-pointers put ETSU up 14-10 with seconds to play in the quarter.
However, SoCon Freshman of the Year Raven Thompson found an open shot just before the buzzer and knocked down a triple, drawing the Mocs to within 14-13.
“I felt like that affected us probably more than it should have,” ETSU head coach Brenda Mock Brown said of the shot. “I think not having that momentum going into that second quarter was a contributing factor, their defense was a contributing factor. Maybe Jiselle and Kendall – you’re missing a couple shots – that’s a contributing factor and it kind of snowballs, if you will.”
The Bucs struggled mightily in the second quarter, scoring just two points and being held scoreless for the final 8:50 of the frame. The Mocs, on the other hand, poured in 18 points and created some serious separation – leading 31-16 at the half.
“Yeah, our shots didn’t fall so it was more like, try and get it back on defense and get some stops,” ETSU guard Kendall Folley said of the offensive struggles.
“I know it was just tough out there,” ETSU guard Jiselle Thomas echoed. “I think like Ken[dall] was saying, just really trying to find that spark on defense and trying not to let that carry our energy. But, kind of knowing that we have to stay together and just kind of – knowing what works for us – and that’s playing together and being together.”
But, Chattanooga kept on coming in the second half, starting the third quarter on a 10-2 run – they never looked back.
Yazz Wazeerud-Din and Thompson were a two-headed monster for the Mocs all afternoon. Thompson dropped 23 points and grabbed ten rebounds in the victory, while Wazeerud-Din pitched in 20 points of her own.
Nevaeh Brown led the Blue and Gold with 12 points on the night. No other Buccaneer had more than five points, as the team shot just 27.7 percent from the floor.
The SoCon tournament loss still stings, but by tying a school record 23 wins in her first season at the helm, Mock Brown knows the devotion of this year’s squad will pave the way for future Lady Bucs teams.
“We know we have to improve on how that response manifests – we want to be more resilient,” she said. “But, we’ve already endured quite a few things this year and bounced back. Couldn’t be prouder of my team.”
Mock Brown isn’t ready to call the season quits just yet, either. She believes this group still has a chance to get its 24th win on the year.
“That’s a goal of ours and this team has earned that opportunity to continue to play [in the postseason],” Mock Brown said. “We’ll be praying and hoping for that. I think we have a resume for that.”
For now, ETSU’s record sits at 23-9.