We're Going Dancin'!
March 4, 2007
TULSA, Okla. -- It's been 25 years since East Carolina made its only appearance in the NCAA Women's Championship.
The Pirates are heading off for another swash-buckling adventure this March after overcoming a double-digit deficit to knock off Rice, 79-70, on Sunday to win the 2007 Conference USA Championship, presented by Aeropostale.
No. 3 seed ECU (19-13) faced a 12-point deficit in the second half. But sophomore guard and all-tournament selection Jasmine Young led the Pirates back. She buried a 3-pointer that tied the game, 61-61, and hit two critical shots during a 12-0 run that gave ECU a 74-64 lead with about two minutes remaining.
When Impris Manning hit two free throws with 12.8 seconds showing, it completed a 21-point turnaround at Donald W. Reynolds Center as ECU clinched C-USA's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The Pirates all took turns cutting down the net while wearing championship shirts and hats. East Carolina hasn't been to the NCAAs since 1982 when the Pirates suffered a first-round loss to South Carolina.
Barring a surprise postseason invitation, No. 4 seed Rice likely saw its season end with a 19-13 record. Lauren Neaves had her 51st career double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds. Krystal Frazier poured in a game-high 27 points on 6-of-15 shooting from 3-point range.
The Owls appeared to be in cruise control after Frazier hit a layup with 12:18 remaining. They led 53-41 and appeared to be ready to make up for a frustrating loss to Tulsa in last year's C-USA tournament championship game.
Only that lead slowly disappeared as Terry hit consecutive layups and Mills converted a three-point play with 9:34 remaining.
East Carolina raced out to a 17-6 lead on the strength of Young's two layups and an 18-footer. Nicole Days' impressive layup and three-point play pushed the Pirates' lead to 14 with 13:51 remaining in the first half.
Then, the Owls came alive. Frazier buried a 16-footer, Valeriya Berezhynska nailed an off-balance jumper and Frazier hit a 3-pointer after a missed free throw.
Rice pulled within one when Maudess Fulton sank two free throws with 7:06 remaining in the first half. The Owls then inched ahead and eventually took a 30-25 lead on Neaves' layup.
Frazier led all scorers with 15 first-half points, and Young had 12 for the Pirates. Both teams shot 37 percent, although Rice had a strong edge on the glass (25-18).
The NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship bracket will be announced Monday, March 12. ECU is C-USA's automatic bid to the Big Dance, but Tulane (25-6) , UAB (18-12) and UTEP (22-8) will have to wait for selection Monday. Tulane is a postseason team as the Green Wave are the automatic selection to the WNIT from conference.
EAST CAROLINA HEAD COACH Sharon Baldwin-Tener
ECU Sophomore Guard Jasmine Young
ECU Sophomore Guard LaCoya Terry