Jan. 14, 2010
ECU Women's Basketball Gameday Central
Complete Game Notes in PDF Format
HOUSTON, Texas - Having won four-straight contests and three consecutive to begin Conference USA play, the East Carolina women's basketball begins a three-game road swing with a tough test at Houston Friday. Tipoff is slated for 8 p.m. at Hofheinz Pavilion. The Lady Pirates have never beaten the Cougars on the hardwood (0-8).
ECU, 14-2 overall, has continued to put together the second-best start in program history and has won seven of its last eight contests. The Lady Pirates are coming off a 73-62 victory over defending league champion UCF last Sunday at Minges Coliseum as East Carolina improved to 9-0 at home this season. The 11-point margin of victory marked the first time in program history that ECU has won three-straight C-USA regular season games by double figures. The Lady Pirates have also won 21 of their last 23 affairs at Minges.
Ashley Clarke notched her second career double-double against the Knights and second of the season, scoring 19 points to go along with a personal-best 11 assists. The sophomore also flirted with a triple-double, setting a new career high with six steals. Allison Spivey and Kim Gay also contributed double-digit scoring efforts, netting 12 and 10 respectively. Ariana Jackson was the top rebounder for East Carolina, grabbing seven to go along with her second-straight eight-point game.
Jean Best recorded two blocks in the contest to move into a tie for 10th-place on the East Carolina career ledger. She now owns 62 in 47 games played with the Lady Pirates and 15 this year.
The teams cooled off after the half from the field, but the Lady Pirates shot .490 percent while UCF produced a .471 mark. The Knights got the better of the rebounding, but only slightly, as they recorded 31 to ECU's 28. Meanwhile, the Lady Pirates had the distinct advantage in assists (17-9) and blocks (5-0). Neither squad held on to the ball well at all, as they combined for 60 turnovers with the Knights committing 31 of them.
Clarke paces the Lady Pirate offense, scoring 12.7 points per contest, while averaging a C-USA second-best 5.6 assists per game. East Carolina boasts six players averaging 7.6 or more points, including 10.7 and 10.2 marks from Spivey and Crystal Wilson. Kim Gay is the leading rebounder for the Lady Pirates, pulling down 5.8 over 16 contests.
ECU finds itself ranked in the top three in the league in 13 different statistical categories, including first in scoring offense (74.6 ppg), field goal percentage (.471), three-point field goal percentage defense (.268), rebounds allowed (33.8 rpg) and rebounding margin (+5.5).
Houston is 8-7 overall and 2-0 in C-USA play, defeating Tulane and UTEP on the road last weekend. The Cougars are led in scoring by 2009-10 C-USA Preseason All-Conference selection Courtney Taylor, who is averaging 17.6 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. The forward is complimented on the outside by guard Britney Scott, who is also scoring at a double-digit clip with 13.8 per contest.
Houston is shooting at .394 efficiency from the field and are pulling down 41.1 rebounds per game, the third most in the league.
THE SERIES: HOUSTON
Today's contest marks the ninth in a series that began in 2002, East Carolina's first season as a women's basketball member of Conference USA. The Lady Pirates have never beaten Houston. Last season, the Cougars won a 66-65 decision in the regular season finale at Minges Coliseum when Jasmine Johnson recorded the game-winning steal with less than 10 seconds left.
WHEN WILL YOU BE BACK?
The Lady Pirates are credited with a 274-325 (.457) record away from Greenville since the program began before the 1969-70 campaign. In 2008-09, ECU was 3-9 in true road contests while 3-2 at neutral sites. Since Baldwin-Tener took over the reigns, the Lady Pirates are 46-71 (.393) in front of non-partisan crowds. The team was just 1-7 in league games on the road last season, salvaging a 70-60 win at UAB in the final conference away contest of 2008-09.
THE AFTERMATH: UCF
The 11-point margin of victory over UCF, coupled with 24 and 26-point victories over Marshall and Southern Miss, marked the first time in program history that East Carolina has won three-straight regular season Conference USA matchups by double-digits ... Ashley Clarke notched her second career double-double with 19 points and a career-high 11 assists, the most in a game by any C-USA player this season ... Clarke also plucked a personal-best six steals against the Knights ... Juniors Allison Spivey and Kim Gay also turned in double figures in the scoring column and have 15 combined such efforts this season ... ECU improved to 3-0 in league play for the first time since 2004-05.
INTO THE WEST
When comparing the Lady Pirate record against the East and West schools in Conference USA, there lies a striking contrast. Since joining the league, East Carolina is 38-25 (.603) versus its East bretheren and just 14-24 (.368) against the West. In 2008-09, the Lady Pirates recorded a 6-4 ledger when playing East foes and a 2-4 mark when battling West members. ECU picked up wins over Rice and UTEP, swept UAB and split with the remaining East constituents.
KELLY COLLECTING THE THREE-BALL
After transferring from West Virginia and sitting out the required year before she could suit up for ECU, Kelly Smith will tell you that she is shaking off some of the rust from that long layoff. Anyone who has seen her play recently might argue that she is ready to pick up where she left off as the Lady Pirates enter conference play. In the last five contests, Smith has drilled 15 three-point field goals, including a 5-for-5 showing against Marshall in the C-USA opener.
AMONG THE NATIONAL LEADERS
The Lady Pirates are among the top 50 in many categories in the latest national rankings. ECU is eighth in field goal percentage (.471), 12th in winning percentage (.875), 20th in assists per game (16.8), 25th in three-point field goal defense (.268), 30th in scoring (.74.6), 32nd in steals per game (11.1), 37th in scoring margin (+13.7) and 43rd in rebound margin (+5.5). Additionally, Clarke checks in at 24th in assists per game (5.6) and 75th in steals per game (2.6), while Allison Spivey is 82nd in assist/turnover ratio (1.63).
OTHERS TAKING NOTE
Lady Pirate fans are not the only people recognizing the team's strong play thus far this season. ECU is receiving votes in both Top 25 polls for the first time in program history. The AP voters gave the Lady Pirates four votes while the coaches granted them 14.
While ECU may not have a C-USA Player-of-the-Year candidate or even a league player-of-the-week award winner this season, it can at least boast a balanced squad ... The Lady Pirates have six players averaging 7.6 or more points per game. Every member of the 2009-10 roster played, scored and had a rebound in the 103-59 win over Houston-Baptist. There are also five players averaging more than 20 minutes per game. In C-USA games, four players are putting in double figures in scoring and three with five-plus rebounds per contest.
PICK-POCKETING THE COMPETITION
Lady Pirate opponents might want to secure the ball better from this point forward, as ECU is averaging 11.1 steals in 16 games. The Lady Pirates recorded 21 of them against Houston-Baptist and 16 in a home contest vs. Western Carolina.
UP NEXT FOR THE LADY PIRATES
After the tilt with Houston, the Lady Pirates continue their Texas roadtrip with a contest against Rice Sunday before heading to Dallas nearly a week later on Saturday to face defending regular season champion SMU at Moody Coliseum. ECU defeated Rice easily, 79-54, last season. The C-USA regular season champion Mustangs took both meetings between the schools last year, winning 80-73 at Moody Coliseum during the regular season, before knocking off the eighth-seeded Lady Pirates, 77-69, in the league tournament quarterfinals.