Defense Leads ECU Past Southern Miss, 76-50
Jan. 8, 2010
GREENVILLE, N.C. - The East Carolina women's basketball team displayed a balanced offensive attack and used stifling defense to post a 76-50 victory over 2009 Conference USA Tournament finalist Southern Miss Friday night at Minges Coliseum. The Lady Pirates improve to 13-2 overall and 2-0 in C-USA play while the Golden Eagles dip to 4-10 overall and 0-1 against the league.
"I was very pleased with our defense tonight," head coach Sharon Baldwin-Tener stated. "We have been working on it in practice the past few weeks after returning from New York and it is definitely paying dividends. It is also nice to see that balance in our team. If one player is having a bad game, there are multiple people that can step up and pick up the slack.
"The crowd was great tonight with a lot of students that were loud and rowdy. UCF is a great team, the defending league champion, and we will have to be extremely ready to play again Sunday."
ECU won its eighth-straight home contest and is 8-0 at Minges Coliseum this season. The Lady Pirates have also won 22 of their last 26 home affairs. Additionally, East Carolina recorded its largest margin of victory in program history in a C-USA game, besting the 24-point win over Marshall just five days ago, and have now won seven games by 20 points or more this season.
ECU jumped out to a 5-2 lead before Pauline Love hit a baseline jumper to make the score 5-4 at the 15:33 mark. The Lady Pirates would then score the next eight points, as Southern Miss called a timeout when Allison Spivey hit a three-pointer from the top of the key with 13:08 left in the half. Ariana Jackson then converted a trey of her own to push the advantage to 16-4 at the second media timeout (11:50).
The Golden Eagles had trouble holding onto the ball as they eclipsed the double-digit mark in turnovers. East Carolina took advantage, stretching out to a 25-8 lead as the clock ticked under eight minutes. Southern Miss chipped into the deficit, pulling within 28-13, but Kelly Smith drained a mid-range jumper to make the score 30-13 as the period wore down. The Lady Pirates would take a 35-17 advantage into the break.
Spivey nailed four of her eight shots in the half, including two three-point field goals, to end up with a team-high 11 points while Jackson contributed six on two made treys. Ashley Clarke was the top rebounder for ECU, picking up five.
The Lady Pirates did not shoot the ball particularly well in the first 20 minutes, converting just .387 percent of their shots, but held the visitors to just .267 and forced 13 Golden Eagle turnovers. Southern Miss had the slight edge on the boards, 23-22, including nine offensive rebounds. Additionally, East Carolina ran an efficient offense, recording 11 assists on 12 baskets.
The Golden Eagles drew to within 14 points in the first three minutes of the second half, but the Lady Pirates quickly regained a 20-point lead on two Spivey free throws. The teams went back and forth for the next few minutes, however ECU pushed out to a 25-point lead when Chareya Smith converted a three-point play with a free throw at the 12:39 mark.
A three by Kassietta Brown cut the Southern Miss deficit back under 20 points, 59-38 with 8:24 left in the contest, but the Lady Pirates put the game away with a 10-0 run that spanned two minutes from the 5:20 to 3:16 marks. Only a late putback allowed Southern Miss to reach 50 points, the second-fewest allowed by East Carolina this season.
Chareya Smith tallied her first career double-double, scoring 11 points to go along with a career-best matching 10 rebounds. Spivey also scored in double figures, netting 15 while Jackson matched her season high with eight. In all, 12 of 13 players on the East Carolina roster scored in the contest. Clarke set a new personal best in rebounds, picking up a team second-best eight. Additionally, a quartet of Lady Pirates recorded three assists.
ECU suffered its poorest shooting effort in a win this season, converting just .361 percent from the floor, but hit 26 of 30 free throws (.867). The Lady Pirates also won the rebounding battle against a physical Golden Eagle squad 50-44, marking the second time East Carolina has corralled at least 50 rebounds this year.
The Lady Pirates displayed balance in their offense not only in the scoring column but in assists, as they distributed 17 helpers on 22 buckets. They also forced 20 Southern Miss turnovers while committing 16 themselves.
Love had a monster game for the Golden Eagles, scoring 16 points to go along with 18 rebounds, her 47th career double-double.
East Carolina completes a three-game homestand on Sunday against defending C-USA champion UCF at Minges Coliseum. Tipoff is slated for 2 p.m.