East Carolina Hosts Rice in Conference USA Action

UABSPORTS.COM Jenka Stiasna
UABSPORTS.COM
Jenka Stiasna
UABSPORTS.COM

Jan. 21, 2014

Game 18: Rice at East Carolina
Date Wednesday, January 22
Time 7:00 p.m. (ET)
Location Greenville, N.C. | Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum
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The Game
The East Carolina women’s basketball team welcomes Rice to Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum for a mid-week Conference USA contest on Wednesday, January 22, at 7 p.m. Special promotions for the night include Club Sports Night and Student Appreciation Night.

The Series
The Pirates and the Owls will meet for the 11th time in program history and the all-time series is knotted at 5-5. Last season, East Carolina defeated Rice, 60-41, in Greenville, N.C. Prior to that contest, the two teams trades victories dating back to their first-ever meeting in 2006 when Rice was victorious over ECU, 73-65, in Houston, Texas.

Last Time Out
East Carolina is coming off of an 86-55 victory over Louisiana Tech on Saturday. Freshman guard J’Kyra Brown had a career day that propelled the Pirates over the Lady Techsters as Brown poured in a game-high and career-high 29 points to go along with a career-high four steals, four rebounds, and a career-best three assists. She finished the game shooting 78.6-percent from the field and 75-percent from three-point range. Redshirt sophomore forward Jada Payne also registered a 20-point performance as she connected on 7-of-10 field goals, 2-of-3 three-point shots, and was a perfect 4-for-4 from the charity stripe. Payne added five rebounds, four assists and a pair of steals. The contest marked Payne’s 15th double-figure performance of the year as well as her ninth 20-point effort of the season. Redshirt junior post Ondrea Shaw contributed a career-high 13 rebounds in the game. She also tied her career-high with eight points while adding four blocks and three steals. Shaw now has 53 total blocks on the year to rank fourth in the ECU single-season record book. East Carolina shot 60.7-percent in the game as the Pirates connected on 34-of-56 field goals. ECU was solid from three-point range as well shooting 62.5-percent (10-for-16). The Pirates held the lead throughout the game as they led by as many as 39 (69-30) before putting the game away by a score of 86-55.

About the Pirates
East Carolina has won seven of its last eight games to compile a 15-2 overall record and a 3-1 Conference USA mark to rank second in league standings. The Pirates are undefeated at home as they have posted a 9-0 record at Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum. As a team, ECU is shooting 42.5-percent from the field which ranks second in Conference USA. The Pirates are outscoring their opponents 75.5 points per game to 59.5 for a scoring margin of +16.0 which is good for first in the league and 18th in the nation. East Carolina owns the advantage in rebounding as the Pirates average 43.3 boards per game, while limiting their counterparts to a conference-leading 34.8 for a rebounding margin of +8.5 which also leads C-USA and ranks 22nd in the NCAA. The Pirates also lead the conference in blocks per game (5.4) and steals per contest (11.9). Those marks are also good for 18th and seventh, respectively, in the NCAA. Redshirt sophomore forward Jada Payne is the team’s leading scorer as she averages 20.5 points per game which is good for third in the league and 31st in the nation. Payne also leads the Pirates in rebounding with an average of 7.4 boards per game to rank 10th in C-USA. The Hickory, N.C., native owns a three-point field goal percentage of 43.9 which ranks her 23rd in the NCAA and second in the conference. Redshirt junior guard Abria Trice is ECU’s second leading scorer with 17.1 points per game which is good for seventh in the league. She also contributes 4.0 rebounds per game, a team-best 29 steals, 22 assists and 12 blocks. Redshirt junior post Ondrea Shaw has been key on defense for East Carolina as she leads the team and conference with 3.1 blocks per game. Her blocks per game average is also good for 10th in the nation. Shaw is second on the team with 7.1 rebounds per game, which ranks in 15th in C-USA, while adding 2.9 points per game and 17 steals.

Scouting the Owls
Rice comes to Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum with a 10-7 overall record and a 3-1 Conference USA ledger. The Owls have won five out of their last six games, with their one loss coming at Florida Atlantic (97-69) on January 11. The Owls are shooting 40.8-percent from the field and averaging 66.1 points per game. They also average 42.2 rebounds per game, 13.6 assists per contest, 6.1 steals per game, and 3.1 blocks per game. Senior forward Jessica Kuster is the Owls’ leading scorer as she averages 20.4 points per game to rank fourth in the league. She also is the squad’s leading rebounder as she averages 13.8 per contest to lead Conference USA. Kuster adds a team-high 23 blocks and a team-best 27 steals to go along with 41 assists. Junior guard Reem Moussa leads Rice with 63 assists to average 3.7 per contest which ranks her seventh in the league.

Home Sweet Home
Last season, ECU closed out the year with an impressive 14-1 record while playing at Minges Coliseum. After starting the 2013-14 season with a 9-0 record in Greenville, the Pirates have extended their home winning streak to 22 games. East Carolina has not lost a home match in more than a year as the last time the Pirates were defeated inside Minges Coliseum was on November 17, 2012 when they dropped a 72-62 decision to College of Charleston.

In the Nation
In the NCAA’s weekly national statistical rankings East Carolina is ranked in the top 50 in 10 categories. The Pirates are seventh in the nation in steals per game as they average 11.9. Additionally, ECU is 11th in win-loss percentage (88.2), 17th in three-point field goal percent defense (26.5), 18th in blocks per game (5.4) and 18th in scoring margin (+16.0). The Pirates are also ranked 22nd in rebounding margin (+8.5), 25th in field goal percent defense (35.4), 36th in free throw percentage (74.5), 41st in scoring defense (59.5), and 50th in scoring offense (75.5).

Getting Defensive
A defensively strong team, East Carolina has limited its opponents to 59.5 points per game, while averaging 75.5 points per game for a scoring margin of +16.0. The Pirates’ scoring margin leads the conference while their scoring defense ranks second in C-USA. The marks are also ranked 18th and 41st in the NCAA, respectively. Additionally, the Pirates have collected 202 steals to average 11.9 per game to lead the league and rank seventh in the nation. ECU has also forced their counterparts into 359 turnovers to average 21.1 per game. The Pirates have also put up 91 blocks to average 5.4 per game which leads the league and ranks 18th in the nation.

Pouring In The Points
The Pirates have a pair of double-figure scorers in redshirt sophomore forward Jada Payne and redshirt junior guard Abria Trice. Payne leads the Pirates with 20.5 points per game, while Trice averages 17.1. Their averages rank third and seventh, respectively, in the conference. As a team, ECU owns a scoring offense of 75.5 to rank fourth in the league and in the Top-50 in the nation, while the Pirates limit their opponents to 59.5 points per game for a scoring margin of +16.0, which ranks second and first, respectively, in the conference and 41st and 18th, respectively, in the nation.

Thanks For the Assistance
The Pirates have dished out 245 assists this season to average 14.4 per game which ranks fourth in Conference USA. Junior guard Janesha Ebron is the team-leader with 84 helpers on the year to average 4.9 per game which ranks her fifth in the conference. She also is second in C-USA with an assist to turnover ratio of 2.0.

Cleaning Up The Glass
The Pirates have accumulated 736 rebounds to average 43.3 per game to rank second in Conference USA. In holding their opponents to 34.8 rebounds per game, the Pirates own a rebounding margin of +8.5 which leads C-USA and is good for 22nd in the nation. Redshirt sophomore forward Jada Payne is the Pirates’ leader in rebounding as she averages 7.4 boards per game, while redshirt junior post Ondrea Shaw averages 7.1. The pair rank 10th and 15th in the league, respectively.

Pirates Plunder, Pillage, and Steal
Like their namesake, the Pirates are known for steals. ECU has grabbed 202 steals this season to average 11.9 per game which is tops in Conference USA and ranks seventh in the NCAA. The Pirates have forced their opponents into 21.1 turnovers per game and own a turnover margin of +1.9. Redshirt junior guard Abria Trice leads the Pirates with 29 steals to average 1.7 per game which ranks her 14th in the league.

Block Party
ECU has put up 91 blocks to average 5.4 per game which leads Conference USA statistics and is good for 18th in the nation. The Pirates have limited their opponents to 3.4 blocks per game on the year. Junior post Ondrea Shaw leads the team with 53 blocks for an average of 3.1 blocks per game which leads the conference and ranks her 10th in the NCAA. With 53 blocks, Shaw is ranked fourth in the ECU single-season record book.

ECU in C-USA
As a team, East Carolina ranks in the top five in 17 of 21 Conference USA statistical categories this season. ECU leads the league in nine categories. The Pirates lead the conference in scoring margin (+16.0), field goal percent defense (35.4), three-point field goal percent defense (26.5), rebounding defense (34.8), rebounding margin (+8.5), blocked shots per game (5.4), steals per game (11.9), offensive rebounds per game (17.4), and offensive rebounding percentage (44.9).

Pirates in C-USA
Four Pirates have found themselves ranked in the top 20 in Conference USA individual statistics this year. Redshirt junior post Ondrea Shaw leads the league in blocks per game with 3.1. She also ranks eighth in offensive rebounds per game (3.2) and 15th in rebounds per game (7.1). Redshirt sophomore forward Jada Payne leads the conference in free throw percentage (87.5), while ranking second in three-point field goal percentage (43.9), and third in scoring (20.5 points per game). She also ranks fourth in three-point field goals made per game (2.1), 10th in rebounding (7.4 per game), 11th in offensive rebounds per game (3.0), 12th in field goal percentage (49.6), and 14th in defensive rebounds per game (4.4).  Redshirt junior guard Abria Trice is ranked seventh in both scoring (17.1 points per game) and free throw percentage (84.9), and also ranks ninth in field goal percentage (50.2) and tied for 14th in steals per game (1.7). Junior guard Janesha Ebron ranks second in assist to turnover ratio (2.0) and fifth in assists per game (4.9).

C-USA Freshman of the Week
On Monday, December 16, freshman guard J’Kyra Brown earned her first-ever Conference USA Freshman of the Week honor for her performance at the ULM Warhawk Classic. Brown helped the Pirates to a 1-1 record and an appearance in the Warhawk Classic championship game after averaging 10.5 points per game, 2.5 rebounds per game, 1.0 assists per game, 0.5 steals per game, and 0.5 blocks per game. She finished the weekend shooting 53.8-percent from the field, 57.1-percent from beyond the arc, and was 3-for-3 from the free throw line. Brown poured in 18 points in the Pirates’ 85-42 victory over Alcorn State last Friday to secure ECU’s place in the championship contest. She earned the honors along with Takia Brooks of Florida Atlantic and Tamara Jones of Southern Miss who took home Co-Player of the Week accolades. Brown is the first Pirate to collect the award this season.

The “New” Conference USA
Conference USA was one of the many conferences that saw realignments over the summer. July 1, 2013 marked the addition of Charlotte, FIU, Florida Atlantic, LA Tech, Middle Tennessee, North Texas, Old Dominion, and UTSA to C-USA. While the conference expanded with the eight new member institutions, it also parted ways with Houston, Memphis, SMU and UCF as all four joined the American Athletic Conference. 2013 will mark the last year of ECU’s affiliation with Conference USA as the Pirates will join the American Athletic Conference beginning next season.

Notables
• Senior post Ariana Jackson will be out for the season due to an injury.

Coming Up...
East Carolina will travel to Hattiesburg, Miss., for a Saturday, January 25 Conference USA match up at Southern Miss at 5 p.m. ET. Live stats and video will be available on SouthernMiss.com.