Women's Basketball Hosts Rice in Conference USA Opener

Kyani White

Jan. 9, 2013

Game 14: Rice at East Carolina
Date Thursday, Jan. 10
Time 7 p.m. (ET)
Location Greenville, N.C. | Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum
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GREENVILLE, N.C. – The East Carolina women’s basketball team kicks off Conference USA action Thursday, Jan. 10, when the Pirates welcome Rice to Minges Coliseum for a 7 p.m. contest.

The Game: Rice at ECU
East Carolina begins Conference USA action in a Thursday evening contest against Rice at Minges Coliseum on Jan. 10. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m. and live stats, video and a live broadcast will be available on ECUPirates.com. The contest marks the Conference USA opener for both squads and ECU owns a 10-3 mark overall, while Rice is 8-5. Last season, the Pirates finished conference play with a 5-11 record and the Owls were 9-7 in C-USA action.

The Series
The Pirates and Owls will meet for the 10th time in program history and Rice holds a 5-4 edge on East Carolina in the all-time series which began in 2006. Last season, Rice defeated ECU, 66-44, in Houston, Texas. The last time the Pirates were victorious over the Owls was in 2011, when East Carolina won by a score of 66-55 at Minges Coliseum.

Last Time Out
The Pirates return to Minges Coliseum after cruising past George Mason, 71-53, to close non-conference action. In that contest, East Carolina shot 54.8-percent in the second half and was led by four Pirates who scored in double-figures in Whitny Edwards (17 points), Kristine Mial (15), Kyani White (10), and Celeste Stewart (10). Whitny Edwards tallied her fourth-straight double-figure scoring contest as she led all scorers with 17 points. Additionally, the redshirt senior forward notched eight rebounds, three steals, and two assists while shooting 50-percent in the game. Mial finished the game with a season-high 15 points, two blocks, one assist, one steal, and one rebound. White turned in another impressive performance as she posted 10 points, four steals, four assists, and three boards while shooting 66.7-percent in the game and was a perfect 2-for-2 from beyond the arc. Stewart recorded 10 points, with a game-high seven assists, two boards, and one steal. Britny Edwards was the team’s leading rebounder with a game-high 10. She added eight points, two blocks, and an assist.

About the Pirates
East Carolina opens Conference USA action with a 10-3 overall record, its best ledger since the 2009-10 season in which the Pirates earned an invitation to the WNIT. ECU is 6-1 at Minges Coliseum, with its only home loss coming against College of Charleston on November 17. The Pirates are averaging 67.2 points per game this season, while limiting their opponents to 52.4, a league best. In their last two contests, the Pirates registered 71 points in each game to defeat Elon and George Mason. ECU is averaging 14.3 steals per game and forcing its counterparts into 24.8 turnovers per contest. East Carolina is led offensively by Whitny Edwards who is averaging 11.9 points per game as she has amassed 155 points on the year. Her twin sister Britny Edwards is averaging 11.6 points per game and is the Pirates’ leading rebounder with 8.0 boards per game to rank sixth in the conference. Britny Edwards also leads the squad in blocks with 21 and is shooting a team-best 53.7-percent which is good for third in C-USA. Whitny Edwards is averaging 6.7 rebounds per game and has collected 21 steals. Celeste Stewart is the team-leader in with 59 assists while averaging 9.1 points per game, 2.9 rebounds per game, and 24 steals. Kyani White has set the standard for the Pirates in steals with 40 while adding 5.3 points per game, 2.4 boards per game and 48 assists. Kristine Mial has made an immediate impact since returning to ECU after an injury. The junior forward is averaging 12.0 points per game in just three contests thus far.

Scouting The Owls
Rice enters Minges Coliseum with an 8-5 overall record and is 1-4 on the road this season. The contest at ECU marks the Owls’ conference opener and last season Rice finished C-USA with a 9-7 record and was tied for third place in the conference standings. The Owls were on a six-game winning streak to finish the month of December, before seeing their streak snapped at No. 24 Texas A&M to start the new year. Rice’s 80-57 loss to the Aggies was its first setback since it dropped an 89-49 contest against Baylor on November 27. As a team, the Owls are averaging 58.8 points per game, while allowing 62.5. Junior forward Jessica Kuster is Rice’s leading scorer as she is averaging 17.1 points per contest which is good for fifth in the league. Kuster averages a double-double as she has tallied 139 rebounds to average 10.7 boards per game. Additionally, she leads the Owls in blocks (18), steals (11) and is second in assists (29). Megan Palmer is the team’s second leading scorer with 12.7 points per game. She is averaging 7.2 rebounds per game and has contributed 14 assists this season. Jessica Goswitz leads the squad in assists with 30 while averaging 4.7 points per game and 2.8 rebounds per game.

The Coaches
East Carolina: Head Coach Heather Macy (Greensboro College, 2000) enters her third year at the helm of the ECU women’s basketball team and holds a record of 38-37 as the Pirates leader. Overall, Macy owns a 153-76 career record and is 89-42 in conference action. In her first year with the Pirates, Macy guided the team to a winning record for the third straight season and helped the Pirates to a 9-7 conference mark which was good for fifth place in the league. Macy came to ECU from Francis Marion where she led the Patriots to a 27-5 ledger during the 2009-10 season and finished second in the East Division of the Peach Belt Conference. Under her tutelage, FMU earned a berth to the NCAA Division II Tournament and advanced to the second round. Macy spent three seasons with FMU and finished her stint with an impressive 75-19 record. She began her coaching career with Pfeiffer, where she coached for two years and led the Falcons to a 26-5 record in her final season.

Rice: Greg Williams (Rice, 1970) is in his eighth season at the helm of his alma mater’s women’s basketball program. In his eight seasons, he has led the Owls to a 113-121 overall record and two consecutive postseason appearances. Williams has guided Rice to two Conference USA title games and four postseason appearances in 2006, 2007, 2011 and 2012. The Owls advanced to the WBI in 2012, marking their second consecutive trip to the postseason. Rice posted a 16-16 record, and Jessica Kuster was named to the All-C-USA First Team for the second straight year. Williams took the reins at his alma mater in 2003 after many years of experience at both the collegiate and professional ranks as the head coach of the Women’s Basketball League’s Dallas Diamonds, the University of Houston, Colorado State University, and the WNBA’s Detroit Shock.

The National Spotlight
As a team, East Carolina ranks in the Top 50 in nine categories in NCAA Division I statistics. The Pirates are third in steals per game (14.3), sixth in turnover margin (7.9), 18th in assists per game (17.2), 29th in scoring defense (52.4), 33rd in scoring margin (+14.8), 38th in assists to turnover ratio (1.0), 41st in field goal percent defense (.350), 44th in three-point field goal defense (.260), and 49th in win-loss percentage (.769). Individually, redshirt sophomore Kyani White ranks 30th in assists/turnover ratio (2.2) and 37th in steals per game (3.1), while redshirt senior Britny Edwards is 33rd in field goal percentage (.537).

On This Date in ECU Women’s Basketball History
The East Carolina women’s basketball team has played in 12 contests on January 10th since the program’s inception. The first game took place in 1979, when ECU defeated UAB, 66-58, in a neutral site affair in Clemson, S.C. Since then, the Pirates have recorded a 6-6 record on January 10th, with their last contest taking place in 2010 versus UCF in a Conference USA game at Minges Coliseum. In that game, the Pirates turned back the Knights, 73-62.

Cracking the Top 10
A pair of Pirates have found their way into the East Carolina women’s basketball career record books with their performances this season. Britny Edwards is currently ranked eighth in career blocks with 66, while Celeste Stewart sits in ninth with 293 career assists.

Closing in on the Top 10
Senior Shala Hodges is 13 three-pointers away from jumping into 10th place in the ECU all-time record books for most three-point field goals made in a career. Currently, Hodges has tallied 74 treys.

Off the Bench
The East Carolina women’s basketball team utilizes its bench as much as anyone, if not more. This season, the Pirates’ bench has outscored its opponents’ bench 321-193. ECU’s non-starters tallied 52 of the team’s 84 points in the Pirates’ win over St. Andrew’s on November 11, and East Carolina’s bench recorded 45 of 79 points against Converse on November 18. Most recently, the Pirates’ bench notched 26 points versus’ George Mason on January 2, while the Patriots’ bench was limited to just four points. In that contest, ECU cruised past George Mason, 71-53.

Cleaning up the Glass
Whitny Edwards and Britny Edwards have been doing their duty at the glass this season. The twins have totaled 191 rebounds as Britny has collected 104 and Whitny has added 87. Britny is averaging 8.0 rebounds per game which ranks sixth in the conference. Additionally, she is fifth in defensive rebounds (5.2) in Conference USA.

Getting Offensive
This season, the Pirates are outscoring their opponents 874-681 (67.2 points per game to 52.4) to boast an impressive scoring margin of +14.8, which leads the conference and ranks in the top 35 in the NCAA. A large part of the offense has come from redshirt seniors Whitny and Britny Edwards. Whitny is the Pirates’ leading scorer as she averages 11.9 points per game, however, Britny is hot on her heels with an average of 11.6 points per contest. Additionally, Britny is leading the team with 53.7-percent shooting to rank third in C-USA, while Whitny is shooting 40.7-percent.

Pirates Plunder, Pillage, and Steal
Sophomore guard Kyani White has collected 40 steals to average 3.1 steals per game for ECU. Against Converse, White grabbed a game-high eight steals to tie for sixth place in the ECU single-game record book. She is fourth in Conference USA and 37th in the nation in steals per contest.

Thanks for the Assistance
Senior Celeste Stewart has dished out a team-leading 59 assists this season to average 4.5 assists per game which is good for second in C-USA statistics. She is currently in ninth place in the ECU career record books with 293 in her career. Kyani White is averaging 3.7 assists per contest to rank 10th in the league.

Block Party
Redshirt senior Britny Edwards recorded a game-high five blocks in the Pirates’ season opener at William & Mary. Her five blocks tied her career-high from a year ago when she tallied five stops versus Jacksonville on December 18, 2011. Last season, Britny Edwards finished the year with a team-leading 45 blocks. This season, Edwards has posted a team-leading 21 blocks to average 1.6 blocks per game which ranks third in Conference USA. In the Pirates’ win over NC Central, Edwards tallied her 63rd career block to break into the ECU all-time record book.

ECU as a Team in C-USA
As a team the Pirates lead Conference USA in six categories. East Carolina has set the standard in scoring defense (52.4), scoring margin (+14.8), steals per game (14.3), turnover margin (+7.8), offensive rebounds per game (17.3), and three-point made field goals per game (5.4). The Pirates rank in the top five in 15 of 21 categories in conference statistics.

ECU Players in C-USA
Individually, East Carolina has a number of players in the top 10 in conference statistics. Kyani White leads the conference in assists to turnover ratio (2.2), is fourth in steals per game (3.1) and 10th in assists per game (3.7). Britny Edwards ranks third in field goal percentage (.537), third in blocked shots per game (1.6), fifth in defensive rebounds per game (5.2), and sixth in rebounds per game (8.0). Celeste Stewart is second in assists per game (4.5) and sixth in assists to turnover ratio (1.6), while Whitny Edwards is fifth in three-point made field goals as she averages 1.8.

Coming Up...
The Pirates travel to El Paso, Texas to take on Conference USA foe UTEP at the Don Haskins Arena. East Carolina and UTEP will face off on Sunday, Jan. 13, at 4 p.m. The Pirates and Miners will meet for the eighth time in program history and ECU holds a 4-3 advantage in the all-time series. Last season, the Miners held off the Pirates, 66-56, in Greenville, N.C. ECU is looking for its first win over UTEP since February 11, 2010, when the Pirates defeated the Miners, 64-54, at Minges Coliseum.