HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. — East Tennessee State forward Serena Clark had another big game, but she didn’t get much help Monday night.
Clark collected 16 points, 10 rebounds and seven steals in a 68-55 loss to Northern Kentucky. It was the first-ever meeting between the teams, and not one ETSU coach Karen Kemp will want to remember.
Kemp kept her team in the locker room for an extended postgame talk, and she wasn’t in a good mood when she emerged.
“It’s just time for us to grow up,” she said. “They’re a good basketball team, but I thought we were ready to play tonight. I’m really disappointed.”
The Lady Bucs fell to 3-7 overall and 1-2 in the Atlantic Sun Conference. They headed home to prepare for the league’s top two teams — Florida Gulf Coast and Stetson; both are unbeaten in league play.
The Norse improved to 5-8, 2-2 in their first season of Division I basketball.
Kayla Thacker led the way with 20 points, six rebounds and four assists. She said the transition from the Division II ranks has been fairly smooth so far.
“At first we weren’t sure what to expect,” said Thacker, “but we’ve been competing with almost every team we’ve played. And we already have two wins in the league. We’re shocked in a way.”
The Lady Bucs made three more field goals than the Norse but couldn’t offset the difference at the foul line or the 3-point arc. They hit just 1 of 9 free throws and 2 of 12 3-pointers. The Norse went 14 of 19 and 8 of 22, respectively.
Northern Kentucky broke away in the last 10 minutes of the first half to lead 46-38. ETSU wasn’t able to get close in the second half as it shot 27 percent from the field.
Clark did her best to keep her team in sight. The 6-2 junior, a Clemson transfer, made 8 of her 10 shots and snared every lazy pass that came near her on defense.
She had 10 points and 14 rebounds two nights earlier as the Lady Bucs snapped a four-game losing streak at Lipscomb.
“She just didn’t have enough help tonight,” said Kemp. “The last two games she’s played extremely well. She’s very talented. We have some other talented players who need to step up.”
Destiny Mitchell continued an unusually quiet stretch of games. The junior forward took just five shots, making four, and finished with eight points. It was the fifth straight game she has scored in single figures.
“She made a couple of jumpers at the beginning of the game, and I thought we had her going,” said Kemp. “I guess it’s just youth and lack of leadership on the floor, but we didn’t get the ball to her enough.”
Brianna McQueen, coming off a season-high 23 points at Lipscomb, managed only 10 this time. The freshman point guard also dished out six assists.
Brianna Bogard, who was a key performer at the point last season, has apparently gotten lost in the shuffle. She played just eight minutes without a point or assist.
“She just hasn’t been playing well or practicing well,” said Kemp. “That’s how you earn your minutes in the games.”
Melody Doss chipped in with 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Norse, who held a 42-38 rebounding edge.