Lady Pirates Hold Off VCU, 88-85
Dec. 2, 2009
GREENVILLE, N.C. - The East Carolina women's basketball team built a 20 point lead in the second half, but had to withstand a huge rally from 2009 NCAA participant VCU Wednesday, holding on for an 88-85 victory at Minges Coliseum. The Lady Pirates are now 7-0 overall and continue to match the 1972-73 squad for the most consecutive wins to start a season. Meanwhile, the Rams suffered their first loss of the year and fall to 3-1.
East Carolina produced its 21st home win in its last 26 tries and its 16th non-conference triumph contest in 20 attempts. The Lady Pirates have also defeated four 2009 postseason qualifiers in their first seven games this year - Charlotte (NCAA), Western Carolina (NCAA), American (WNIT) and VCU (NCAA).
With the win, head coach Sharon Baldwin-Tener matches Catherine Bolton as the winningest coach in program history, and can set the record with a win at Gardner-Webb Saturday. She now owns 110 victories here.
Ashley Clarke was one of five players in double figures, netting 13 points to go along with a career-best 10 assists while recording her first career double-double. Clarke has also scored in double digits six of seven games this season.
"This was a huge win for us," Baldwin-Tener stated. "VCU is a great team that is going to win a lot of games this season. I was pleased that we were able to hold on down the stretch, but we need to stop making silly plays on defense. I was very impressed by our crowd. They were loud throughout the game and really helped us. Our depth really aided in the win tonight as well."
A Kelly Smith three gave ECU a 12-8 lead at the 16:36 mark, but VCU came back with an 18-10 run over the next five minutes to go ahead 26-18. With the Rams leading 29-21 with 9:31 remaining in the period, the Lady Pirates picked up their defense and went on an 11-4 run to pull within 33-32 at the 4:06 mark. The East Carolina defensive pressure then mounted, as Crystal Wilson capped off an 11-3 scoring stretch with a steal and a layup at the buzzer to give the Lady Pirates a 44-36 advantage at the break.
Wilson paced the offense in the first half, scoring nine points while Jean Best fell just behind with eight. Wilson also pulled down a team-best three rebounds.
ECU held the edge in shooting in the interval, 44.4 to 41.4, but VCU led on the glass, outrebounding the home team 20-15.
The Lady Pirates pushed ahead with an 11-2 run out of the half, assuming their largest lead of the game at 55-38 with 17:09 left. East Carolina would keep the Rams at bay over the next eight minutes, holding as much as a 20-point lead at the 9:37 mark. VCU began to rally from there, eventually cutting its deficit to under 10 points at 76-67 with 6:32 remaining in the contest. The Rams kept chipping into the lead, outscoring the Lady Pirates 17-7 all the way to the 1:31 mark to trail by just one, 84-83.
Wilson hit a clutch jumper with 1:02 left to give ECU an 86-83 lead. That would prove to be the game-winning shot as La'Tavia Rorie was called for an intentional foul and Allison Spivey hit the two free throws to make the score 88-85 with nine seconds left. Rorie received the ball from out of bounds with two seconds showing on the clock, but could not get off the trey needed to send the game into overtime.
Spivey led five players in double-figure points for East Carolina wtih 17, the second time the team has done it this season (six players against Bethune-Cookman). Additionally, Wilson set a career best with 13 while Best and Kim Gay added 12 and 10, respectively.
On the boards, Gay, Spivey, Kelly Smith and Wilson all picked up three of the team's 24 rebounds while Wilson contributed five assists.
The Lady Pirates shot 50 percent or better for the third time this season, firing at a 60 percent clip. ECU is now shooting a Conference USA leading 50.4 percent in 2009-10. VCU did win the battle on the glass, collecting 39 rebounds, including 21 offensive. The Lady Pirates also distributed 25 assists, upping their season average to 18.9.
East Carolina now hits the road for six-straight games, starting Saturday, Dec. 5, at Gardner-Webb. The Bulldogs have a 7-1 record and welcome the Lady Pirates to Paul Porter Arena at 4:30 p.m.