The No. 6-seeded Bucs (9-20) will face No. 3 UNC Greensboro (21-8) in the Southern Conference tournament Thursday at 5:45 p.m. at the Harrah’s Cherokee Center (former Asheville Civic Center).
Based on the teams’ two previous meetings this season, UNC Greensboro will be a heavy favorite in the quarterfinal matchup.
The Spartans won the first meeting 63-47 in Greensboro and captured a 65-45 win on Feb. 8 in Johnson City. UNC Greensboro took control early in the second game, racing out to a 29-11 halftime advantage.
Nadine Soliman, a 5-foot-10 senior guard from Egypt, proved to be as puzzling to the Bucs as the building of the pyramids. With her size creating a tough matchup, she ended with a game-high 29 points.
Te’Ja Twitty, a senior forward, came through with 14 points and 13 rebounds and was the only other Greensboro player in double digits.
It was the turnover margin of 20-8 in favor of UNCG that proved to be much of the Bucs’ undoing. Also on the defensive end, the Spartans held ETSU to 16-of-47 (34%) from the field.
E’Lease Stafford was the lone ETSU player to enjoy much success on the offensive end, going 6-for-11 from the field and scoring 18 points.
The Bucs’ numbers were barely better in the first meeting, hitting 36% from the field and losing the turnover margin 20-10. A slow start also hampered the Bucs, who were outscored 24-12 in the first quarter.
UNC Greensboro is outscoring its opponents 64-55 over the first 29 games.
Soliman is the team’s leading scorer at 17 points per game. Twitty is averaging 12.4 points and a team-high eight rebounds per game, while Aja Boyd is at 10.3 points and seven rebounds. Defensively, the Spartans have held their opponents to 36.5% shooting from the field and have a slight rebounding advantage.
ETSU has been outscored by a 68-59 average.
Micah Scheetz has been the leading scorer at 15.1 points per game. The 5-foot-8 junior guard from Knoxville is only hitting 34.5% from the field, but she has made up for it by getting to the free-throw line often, where she is hitting 82.5%.
Stafford, a versatile 6-foot guard and forward, is the only other player averaging double figures at 10.7 points per game. Shynia Jackson has come on strong of late with 8.6 points and 5.6 rebounds per game.
With ETSU hampered by injuries much of the season, a key will be keeping Scheetz and Kaia Upton out of foul trouble. The two guards have averaged 36 minutes of playing time per game.