JOHNSON CITY – No matter the sport, there is just something special about any matchup between East Tennessee State and Chattanooga. On Saturday inside Brooks Gym, the women’s basketball teams etched another chapter in a long series of memorable events with a game for the ages.
Four periods could not determine a winner as the Lady Buccaneers and Lady Mocs played three overtimes before UTC finally pulled away for an exciting and exhausting 91-82 victory. UTC moves to 5-16 and 4-3 in the Southern Conference while ETSU falls to 7-15, 2-5 in conference play.
Micah Scheetz scored 20 points to lead the Lady Bucs while Shynia Jackson scored 19 and E’Lease Stafford and Kaia Upton each finished with 16 points. Eboni Williams paced UTC with 25 points and 10 rebounds, Bria Dial had 21, Abbey Cornelius finished with 18 and Lakelyn Bouldin had 13 points.
The difference in the game was rebounds as the Lady Mocs out-rebounded ETSU 55-36 which included 17-6 on the offensive glass.
The lead swapped hands 12 times in the contest and the game was tied nine times.
“It was a great game from a spectator’s standpoint but from a coaches standpoint, it’s maddening” ETSU head coach Brittney Ezell said of the triple overtime thriller. “The last shot to win the game at the end of regulation rolled in and out and that happened on a couple of other occasions as well. Sometimes it’s like that. We finished the game with five players as we had four kids foul out. It was a battle of attrition and we just didn’t have enough bodies to finish it out.”
The Lady Mocs started the game on fire as they shot 50 percent (8-of-16) from the court. They hit four three-pointers with Dial connecting on two of them. ETSU led 8-7 after Stafford made a power move to the basket but then UTC responded by scoring 12 of the next 15 points in the contest to go up 20-11.
Trailing 22-16 as the second period began, Stafford nailed a triple and Shynia Jackson scored on a put-back of a missed shot to pull the Lady Buccaneers to within a point at 22-21. UTC recovered and extended their lead to 29-23 before Sheetz responded with a three with four and a half minutes to go in the half. That was as close as ETSU got, however, as the Lady Mocs led 34-28 at the break.
UTC opened the second half with six straight points and eventually pushed the lead to 13 when Eboni Williams drained a downtown shot at the 6:33 mark. The Lady Bucs responded with a flurry as they scored nine consecutive points and cut the UTC lead to 45-41 when Scheetz laid one in. Jackson’s layup with just over a minute to go in the third made the score 47-43 headed to the final frame.
Even though they had trailed by 13 points at one time, the Lady Bucs kept plugging away and Stafford came up big once more as she drove hard to the basket and had a layup with 10.5 seconds to go in regulation to tie the game at 59-59. Both teams had a shot to win the game which included ETSU’s Scheetz who had a jumper at the buzzer that was halfway through the cylinder but somehow popped out and the game went to the extra five minutes.
The first overtime saw the two teams go at it with the lead changing hands five times. Stafford’s three-pointer with 24 seconds remaining put ETSU ahead but she fouled out just seconds later when she hacked Williams in the act and the UTC forward connected on both freebies to tie the game at 68-68 and that was how things stood as the horn sounded to end the first overtime session.
Extra session number two saw the Lady Mocs build a 77-73 lead on two free throws by Abbey Cornelius. Jackson responded for ETSU with a put-back and Scheetz hit three of her four free throw attempts to tie the game and after neither team could get the game-winner later, they played on into the third overtime.
After Harvey gave ETSU a quick lead, the rest of the third extra five minutes went UTC’s way. The Lady Mocs scored 13 points to only four for ETSU as Bouldin scored four points and Cornelius had five to lead UTC to the 9-82 victory.
“I was proud of our fight and we gave a good effort and a really concerted effort so I can’t really complain about it. It’s going to hurt but it is what it is now,” Ezell said.
The Lady Bucs will host Western Carolina on Thursday night. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.