East Tennessee State guard Tara Davis told her teammates when they began practice for the Atlantic Sun Conference women's tournament that there would be "no mercy" in the Lady Buccaneers quest for a third straight championship.
Wednesday afternoon's 84-49 romp of Stetson at Mercer's University Center left no doubt the message came through loud and clear.
Top-seeded ETSU (21-8) fed an already-potent offense with 13 steals from its defense to set a tournament record for margin of victory. The 35-point difference bettered by a point Samford's 89-55 first-round rout of Troy in 2000.
"When we step out on the court, we want everybody to know that this team is focused and we're not satisfied with just a regular-season championship," said ETSU coach Karen Kemp, who's in her 15th season with the Lady Bucs. "Our goal is to return to the NCAA, I think that 'no mercy' definitely fit (this game)."
Never miss a local story.
ETSU now has a day off before Friday's noon semifinal against the winner of Thursday's noon game between fourth-seeded Belmont and fifth-seeded Kennesaw State.
"That's the beauty of being 1-2 (seeds)," Kemp said. "That extra day to prepare for the next opponent is really key."