Southern Miss Edges ECU In Overtime, 70-67
Jan. 23, 2011
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The East Carolina women's basketball team rallied from a nine-point halftime deficit to force overtime Sunday, but Southern Miss proved to much in the end and took a 70-67 victory at Reed Green Coliseum. The Pirates dropped their third-straight in Hattiesburg, falling to 7-11 overall and 1-4 in C-USA play while the Golden Eagles improved to 8-11 and 3-3.
East Carolina had a five-game overtime winning streak snapped as the last time occurred against SMU at home Jan. 18, 2008.
The ECU post players each turned in solid efforts as Kim Gay, Chareya Smith and Jean Best netted 14 points apiece. Sophomore Elaine Morgan also had a career day on the glass, plucking a personal-best seven boards while Ashley Clarke handed out a squad-high five assists.
The Pirates were done in by a 35-percent shooting performance overall, but hit 44 percent after halftime to mount the rally. ECU did, however, win the rebounding battle for the third-straight game as they out-boarded the home team 48-35. The Pirates also picked up a season-high 25 offensive rebounds for 19 second-chance points. It was a dead heat in the paint with the Golden Eagles holding a slight 36-32 advantage. Additionally, East Carolina received 27 points from the bench while the home team scored all of its points via its five starters.
Southern Miss jumped out to a 9-5 lead with six points from Niesha Pierce before Gay nailed a three from the right wing to pull ECU within one at the 15:18 mark. A 15-10 run over the next seven minutes, capped off by a three from Ashlee Kelly, pushed the Golden Eagle advantage up to six as the home team drained 10 of their first 15 shots.
Southern Miss used the offensive glass to extend the lead, as Geneshia Dunbar grabbed an offensive rebound and put it in to make the score 31-22 with time winding down. The margin would be the same at halftime when Ashley Clarke missed a jumper in the lane with five seconds left, making the score 38-29 at the break.
The Golden Eagles were hot from the field in the first 20 minutes, knocking down 16 of their 27 attempts for a 59-percent performance. The Pirates shot 29 times, but only hit 11 with some misses from inside. East Carolina held the advantage on the glass 17-14 but turned the ball over on 10 possessions, leading to nine points for Southern Miss.
Gay paced the ECU offense in the period with seven points while Best added six along with three rebounds. For the Golden Eagles, Rachel Vigers led the way with 13 points to complement seven rebounds from Dunbar.
The Pirates held Southern Miss scoreless for the first four minutes of the second half, but could only manage two points themselves as the score stood at 40-31 with 15:51 remaining in the contest. ECU kept pushing the play, eventually taking the lead when Chareya Smith hit two free throws at the 12:42 mark to make it 41-40.
A back and forth contest ensued from there, but the Pirates grabbed a four-point lead with under four minutes left when Chareya Smith dropped in two free throws. However, Dunbar hit one of two free throws with 12 seconds showing on the clock to tie the game at 63. Clarke had a chance to win the game with two seconds remaining as she got free on a drive to the basket, but she missed the uncontested layup from the left side.
The Golden Eagles scored the first four points of the extra session before Best knocked down a layup with just over a minute left. East Carolina did not find the basket again until Clarke made a layup with nine seconds remaining to keep the deficit at two. Faulkner had the opportunity to ice the game at the line, but missed her second free throw. Clarke had a good look to hit a three from the top of the key to force a second overtime, but her shot was wide.
ECU returns home Thursday for the first of two games at Minges Coliseum as it hosts league rival UAB. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.