East Carolina Hosts North Texas on Annual Play 4 Kay Day

UABSPORTS.COM Tatiana Chapple
Tatiana Chapple

Feb. 14, 2014

Game 24: North Texas at East Carolina
Date Saturday, February 15
Time 5:00 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 plays host to North Texas on Saturday, February 15, at 5 p.m. The contest is the Pirates’ annual Play 4 Kay day as all fans are encouraged to wear pink in support of breast cancer awareness. Those who wear pink will receive $1 admission. It is also Daddy-Daughter day as girls will receive free admission with the purchase of an adult ticket. The day also includes faculty/staff day as ECU faculty and staff will receive up to four free tickets when they present their One Card. Additionally, all Girl Scouts will receive $1 admission on Saturday for Girl Scout Day.   

The Series
The Pirates and the Mean Green will meet for the first time in program history. North Texas competed in the Sun Belt Conference before becoming a part of Conference USA on July 1, 2013.  

Last Time Out
East Carolina defeated UAB, 83-73, in an overtime contest in Birmingham, Ala., last Saturday. The Pirates out-scored the Blazers 15-5 in the overtime period to win the contest. Shae Nelson led the Pirates’ offensive tear as she recorded a career-high 27 points. Kristine Mial tallied 17 points to go along with six rebounds, while Jada Payne collected 16 points, eight boards, two assists and one steal. Abria Trice rounded out the Pirates’ double-figure scorers with a 15-point effort, while adding a team-high nine rebounds and one assist. Junior guard Janesha Ebron dished out a game-high eight assists, while redshirt junior Ondrea Shaw added a game-best four blocks. ECU opened the game on a 9-2 run as the Pirate defense held the Blazers’ offense to just two points in the first five minutes. Despite the Pirates’ quick start, UAB’s offense awoke and went on an 11-0 run to take a 30-29 lead. The rest of the game was a back-and-forth affair that saw four ties and 10 lead changes. UAB opened the overtime frame with a lay-up, but East Carolina countered with an 8-0 run to go up 76-70 with 2:24 left to play. Despite the Blazers’ efforts, the Pirates connected on 4-of-11 field goals and 6-of-7 free throws, while limiting UAB to just two field goals and one three-pointer in the frame as ECU went on to win it’s 20th game of the year, 83-73, in overtime.

About the Pirates
East Carolina is riding a four-game winning streak and has won seven of its last eight games en route to compiling a 20-3 overall record and an 8-2 Conference USA mark. The Pirates have reached 20 wins in a year for the eighth time in program history. The Pirates own a scoring offense of 74.0 points per game and their defense limits opponents to 60.5 points per game for a scoring margin of +13.5 which ranks second in the conference and 25th in the nation. ECU is a defensively strong team that limits teams to 35.5-percent shooting from the field which leads the conference and ranks 19th in the NCAA. The Pirates’ three-point field goal percent defense of 25.7 also leads the league and is good for seventh in the nation. The Pirates average 5.3 blocked shots per game which is good for first in C-USA and 18th in the NCAA. ECU’s steals per game average of 11.0 ranks second in the league and 13th in the nation. ECU is led offensively by redshirt sophomore forward Jada Payne who averages 19.7 points per game to rank fifth in the league. She also leads the Pirates in rebounding with 7.3 boards per game for 10th in the conference. Payne has contributed 40 assists, 35 steals, and three blocks on the year. Redshirt junior guard Abria Trice is the team’s second leading scorer with 16.6 points per game to go along with 5.0 rebounds per game, a team-best 37 steals, 30 assists and 15 blocks. Redshirt junior post Ondrea Shaw leads East Carolina with 73 blocks to average 3.2 per game which leads C-USA and ranks 11th in the nation. Shaw also adds 7.1 rebounds per game, 3.3 points per game, 21 steals and 14 assists.

Scouting the Mean Green
North Texas enters Minges Coliseum with a 10-13 overall record and a 4-6 Conference USA ledger. The Mean Green is coming off of a 68-52 victory against Old Dominion last Saturday in Denton, Texas. North Texas has struggled on the road as the Mean Green has put together a 1-4 conference road record. The Mean Green is shooting 39.4-percent from the field, 28.6-percent from three-point range and 66.7-percent from the free throw line. They also average 41.0 rebounds per game, 10.7 assists per game, 8.0 steals per game and 1.7 blocks per game. Junior forward Briesha Wynn leads the Mean Green in scoring with 11.2 points per game and is second in rebounding with 6.4 boards per game. She is also the team leader in steals with 34, while adding 43 assists and six blocks. Sophomore forward Alexis Hyder is the Mean Green’s second leading scorer as she averages 10.4 points per game to go along with 6.0 rebounds per game. She also adds 17 assists, 15 steals and a pair of blocks.

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 12-0 record in Greenville, the Pirates have extended their home winning streak to 25 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 eight categories. The Pirates are seventh in the nation in three-point field goal defense (25.7), 11th in win-loss percentage (87.0), 13th in steals per game (11.0), 18th in blocked shots per game (5.3), 19th in field goal percent defense (35.5), 25th in scoring margin (+13.5), 26th in rebound margin (+8.0), and 45th in scoring defense (60.5).

East Carolina reached the 20-win plateau for the eighth time in program history after defeating UAB, 83-73, in overtime at Bartow Arena. The Pirates registered their first back-to-back 20-win season since the 1986 as the 1984-85 squad tallied a 20-9 record and the 1985-86 team registered a program-best 24 victories. This season, East Carolina registered its 20th victory on February 8th marking the earliest the Pirates have ever reached that feat in ECU women’s basketball’s 44-year history. Additionally, the Pirates were the first Conference USA squad to reach 20 victories this season.

Getting Defensive
A defensively strong team, East Carolina has limited its opponents to 60.5 points per game, while averaging 74.0 points per game for a scoring margin of +13.5. The Pirates’ scoring margin ranks second in the conference as does their scoring defense. The marks are also ranked 25th and 45th in the NCAA, respectively. Additionally, the Pirates have collected 252 steals to average 11.0 per game to rank second in the league and place 13th in the nation. ECU has also forced their counterparts into 460 turnovers to average 20.0 per game. The Pirates have put up 123 blocks to average 5.3 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 19.7 points per game, while Trice averages 16.6. Their averages rank fifth and eighth, respectively, in the conference. As a team, ECU owns a scoring offense of 74.0 to rank fourth in the league, while the Pirates limit their opponents to 60.5 points per game for a scoring margin of +13.5, as both marks rank second in the conference and 25th and 45th, respectively, in the nation.

Thanks For the Assistance
The Pirates have dished out 331 assists this season to average 14.4 per game which ranks fourth in Conference USA. Junior guard Janesha Ebron is the team-leader with 116 helpers on the year to average 5.0 per game which ranks her fifth in the conference. She also leads C-USA with an assist to turnover ratio of 2.2.

Cleaning Up The Glass
The Pirates have accumulated 1,009 rebounds to average 43.9 per game to rank second in Conference USA. In holding their opponents to 35.9 rebounds per game, the Pirates own a rebounding margin of +8.0 which leads C-USA and is good for 26th in the nation. Redshirt sophomore forward Jada Payne leads the team with an average of  7.3 boards per game.

Pirates Plunder, Pillage, and Steal
Like their namesake, the Pirates are known for steals. ECU has grabbed 252 steals this season to average 11.0 per game which is tops in Conference USA and ranks 13th in the NCAA. The Pirates have forced their opponents into 20.0 turnovers per game and own a turnover margin of +1.1. Redshirt junior guard Abria Trice leads the Pirates with 37 steals to average 1.6 per game.

Block Party
ECU has put up 123 blocks to average 5.3 per game which leads Conference USA statistics and is good for 18th in the nation. The Pirates have limited their opponents to 3.6 blocks per game on the year. Junior post Ondrea Shaw leads the team with 73 blocks for an average of 3.2 blocks per game which leads the conference and ranks her 11th in the NCAA. With 73 blocks, Shaw is ranked third in the ECU single-season record book.

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.

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

Coming Up...
East Carolina will travel to the Lone Star state to take on UTSA on Thursday, February 20, at 8 p.m. (ET), before battling it out at UTEP on Saturday, February 22, at 5 p.m. (ET). Live stats will be available on ECUPirates.com.