Friday, June 21, 2024

WBB-FCS: East Tennessee State Buccaneers (22-8) at Samford Bulldogs (13-16)


  • ETSU will look to win its first-ever SoCon Championship this season. The Bucs have won three tournament titles all-time — three-peating as a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference (ASUN) in 2008, 2009 and 2010.
  • ETSU has advanced to a championship final nine times — including five as a member of the SoCon in 1984, 1991, 1995, 2015 and most recently in 2018 against Mercer.
  • This will mark ETSU’s 40th appearance in a postseason conference tournament with an all-time record of 31-36 — including a 20-30 record in SoCon tournaments and an 11-6 record in ASUN tournaments.
  • When seeded third or higher, ETSU has an all-time conference tournament record of 24-13. When excluding the ASUN tournaments, ETSU’s record is 13-10.
  • As the No. 3 seed, ETSU has a 7-7 tournament record, including a 5-5 record in SoCon games.
  • When facing a No. 6 seed — regardless of round — ETSU has a 6-3 record.
  • The last time ETSU had a No. 3 seed was in 2017. The Bucs played No. 6 Samford that season and the Bulldogs won 67-64 in a heartbreaker. In that game, former Buccaneer great and Johnson City native Tianna Tarter scored a career-high 39 points.
  • The last time ETSU matched up with Samford in a tournament was in 2021, as the No. 8 Bucs stunned the top-seeded Bulldogs with a 68-61 win in the opening round. Current Buc Jakhyia Davis (Knoxville, Tenn.) had 21 points and five rebounds in that game.
  • ETSU has had 40 all-tournament team selections in its history, including Davis making the second team for the 2021 tournament. Of the group, 27 were first team selections and 13 were placed on second team.
  • Two former Bucs have been named SoCon Tournament MVP, including Nicole Hopson in 1981 and DeShawne Blocker in 1995.


  • ETSU finished the regular season with a 22-8 overall record and a 9-5 mark in league play.
  • The Bucs are tied for second place in the final standings with Chattanooga — one-game back of regular season champion Wofford at 10-4. Due to the head-to-head tiebreaker, ETSU was awarded the No. 3 seed for the postseason tournament.
  • ETSU is one win away from tying the all-time school record for single season wins, set in 2009-10 with a 23-9 record. That season is also tied with two others for the fewest losses in a season all-time (since expanding the schedule to over 15 games in 1974-75).
  • This team and the 2009-10 team are the only two in program history to achieve 22 total wins. The 2009-10 team was also the last to represent ETSU in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament.
  • The Bucs have only reached 21 wins in a single season five times. The first was the historic 1994-95 season, followed by the 2007-08 season and the record-holding 2009-10 season that brought ETSU’s last NCAA tournament appearance. Outside of this season, the other was in 2014-15.
  • Last time out, ETSU ended the regular season with a dramatic 90-84 win in double-overtime at Western Carolina. This marked ETSU’s first and only overtime game all regular season.
  • Three players were named to the SoCon all-conference teams from ETSU. Graduate guard Jiselle Thomas (Norwalk, Ohio) led the way with a first-team selection from both the coaches and media, finishing with 16.7 PPG in conference games and 15.4 PPG in the regular season to rank among the league leaders.
  • Sophomore Kendall Folley (Lebanon, Ohio) — a two-time SoCon Player of the Week — was named to the league’s second team by both the coaches and media, while also earned all-defensive team honors. Folley averaged 14.2 PPG in league play and ranked fourth in field goal percentage (48.2). Defensively, she had 39 steals in the regular season to rank fourth in the conference.
  • True freshman Journee McDaniel (New Bern, N.C.) was named to the SoCon all-freshman team by the SoCon Sports Media Association (SCSMA). McDaniel ranked second behind SoCon Freshman of the Year Raven Thompson among freshman in rebounding, while ranking second on the Bucs with 16 blocks.
  • This season, ETSU had two players earn College Sports Communicators (CSC) Academic All-District honors in sophomore guard Courtney Moore (Gainesville, Fla.) and graduate post Jayla Ruffus-Milner (North Hills, Calif.).
  • Leading the nation’s best turnaround this season, first year Buccaneer head coach Brenda Mock Brown was voted by her peers as the SoCon Coach of the Year. Coach Mock also had one of the most storied turnarounds of all-time at UNC Asheville in 2016, improving by 16 games to rank fifth all-time in NCAA D1 Women’s Basketball history. This year, the Bucs went from six wins last season to 22 already this season — a 16-win improvement to lead all of NCAA D1 Women’s Basketball.
  • ETSU has already broken the school record for best win improvement from season-to-season, going from six wins last season to 21 already this season. The 15-win improvement broke the previous school record of 12 set in the 2014-15 season.
  • Two weeks ago, ETSU nailed a school-record 16 made three-pointers in an 83-45 win over Wofford. The previous record of 15 was set back in ETSU’s last NCAA Tournament appearance in 2010 against Xavier. ETSU also netted 15 threes against North Florida in 2006. Entering that night, ETSU was averaging six made threes per game.
  • Since the start of the program in 1968, ETSU has never had a season that brought five separate four-game win streaks (or longer). ETSU enjoyed two four-game win streaks to start 8-2 overall, then had a five-game win streak to improve to 13-3. After a rocky start to SoCon play, ETSU won four in a row to improve to 17-6. The most recent win streak ended last week at four games. The last time ETSU had three win streaks of four or more games was the 2014-15 season that produced a 21-12 overall record.
  • For 10 straight weeks, ETSU either received votes or earned a ranking in the College Insider Women’s Mid-Major Top 25 Poll. That streak ended just this past week, despite the Bucs receiving 27 votes last week.
  • Two weeks ago, ETSU nailed a school-record 16 made three-pointers in an 83-45 win over Wofford. The previous record of 15 was set back in ETSU’s last NCAA Tournament appearance in 2010 against Xavier. ETSU also netted 15 threes against North Florida in 2006. Entering Thursday night, ETSU was averaging six made threes per game.
  • The Bucs set three more new school records this season, including the fewest points allowed in a game (26) and largest margin of victory (69) against Virginia-Lynchburg. In similar fashion, the Bucs also set a new record for fewest points combined in a gritty 44-31 win over Vanderbilt inside Brooks Gym.
  • The Bucs finished non-conference play with a 13-3 record — the best non-conference finish in modern era program history. That era began when the SoCon began sponsoring a women’s basketball championship in 1983-84 — the same season ETSU finished with 11 non-conference wins.
  • ETSU finished the regular season with the 20th best scoring defense in the nation, allowing just 55.7 PPG. Offensively, ETSU averages 64.0 PPG. Nationally, ETSU is also ranked 30th in offensive rebounds per game (14.2), 32nd in fewest turnovers per game (13.3) and 37th in field goal percentage defense (36.9).
  • As a team, the Bucs lead the SoCon in scoring margin (8.3), blocks per game (3.3), field goal percentage defense and overall winning percentage (73.3).
  • As an individual, Thomas is ranked among the Top 50 players in the nation with an 85.4 free throw percentage (111-130). She is also among the Top 100 leading scorers in the nation with 461 total points.
  • This season, ETSU has secured its first winning campaign since 2018, where the team finished 20-13 overall, 11-3 in the SoCon and made an appearance in the Women’s National Invitational Tournament (WNIT). ETSU has made three NCAA tournament appearances all-time (2008, 2009, 2010) and four WNIT appearances (1995, 2006, 2015, 2018).


  • Samford enters with a 13-16 overall record and a 7-7 record in conference play.
  • The Bulldogs dropped five straight to end the regular season, starting with a 75-63 loss to ETSU in Birmingham.
  • Samford finished the regular season with an 8-5 record at home, a 5-10 record on the road and with a loss in its only neutral site game (against Rhode Island in Orlando, Fla.).
  • The Bulldogs are led by SoCon Media Player of the Year Andrea Bailey — who became a two-time league MVP this season. Bailey was also named to the all-conference first team by both the coaches and media and to the all-defensive team by the coaches. She averaged a league-best 17.7 PPG and 2.89 steals per game.
  • Three other Bulldogs earned all-conference honors, including Sussy Ngulefac on the media’s all-conference third team and both Carly Heidger and Masyn Marchbanks on the all-freshman team.
  • Samford is led by fourth year head coach Carley Kuhns, who came to Samford from her alma mater Valdosta State after three successful years as head coach. She has a career record of 124-87 and an even 58-58 record at Samford.


  • Samford leads the all-time series, 11-9.
  • Only two of the 20 meetings happened in the postseason — the Samford win in 2017 and the ETSU upset victory in 2021.
  • The 2021 win for ETSU was the first time it had eliminated a top seed since defeating No. 1 Chattanooga in 2005.
  • The season series was split this season with the road team winning each time.
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