Pirates Play Host to Southern Miss in Sunday Afternoon Conference Affair

UABSPORTS.COM Ariana Jackson
Ariana Jackson

Feb. 16, 2013

Game 24: Southern Miss at East Carolina
Date Sunday, February 17
Time 1 p.m. (EST)
Location Greenville, N.C. | Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum
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GREENVILLE, N.C. –The East Carolina women’s basketball team will welcome Southern Miss to Minges Coliseum for a Sunday, February 17, conference contest. Tip-off is set for 1 p.m.

The Game: Southern Miss at ECU
East Carolina will play host to Southern Miss at Minges Coliseum on Sunday, February 17. Tip-off is set for 1 p.m. (EST). The Pirates own a 17-6 overall record and are 7-3 in C-USA action. The Golden Eagles are 12-11 on the year and 4-6 in conference play.

The Series
The Pirates and Golden Eagles will meet for the 20th time in program history and ECU leads the all-time series 11-8. Last season, the two squads split a pair of games. Southern Miss defeated East Carolina, 67-57, in Hattiesburg, Miss., on February 5, 2012. One month later, the Pirates were victorious over the Golden Eagles. 70-57, in Greenville, N.C., on March 1.

Last Time Out
The Pirates are coming off of a big win after knocking off conference leader SMU, 63-47, to hand the Mustangs their first conference loss of the season. With the win, ECU is now 11-1 at Minges Coliseum. Prior to the contest, SMU was averaging 70.4 points per game and the ECU defense limited the Mustangs to just 47 points, while out-shooting them 53.1-percent to 31-percent in the second half. The Pirates concluded the game with 10 steals while having forced SMU into 23 turnovers to collect as many points off of turnovers in the contest. Celeste Stewart led the offensive charge as she tallied a career-high 26 points, in which 19 where scored in the second half. She added a game-high five assists, two rebounds and as many steals. Whitny Edwards added 14 points, two rebounds and a steal, while Britny Edwards chipped in 11 points, nine boards, two steals, one assist, and one block. Kyani White led the Pirate defense with three steals and four rebounds, while adding nine points and two assists. Kristine Mial posted a game-best three blocks, three assists and five rebounds to go along with a steal. After closing the half with a one-point lead (23-22), the Pirates used a second half offensive surge to push their lead to 13 on three separate occasions. With just 1:39 remaining, East Carolina was able to extend its lead to 16 after connecting on three of four free throws to end the game, and SMU’s winning streak, with a 63-47 victory.

About the Pirates
East Carolina owns a 17-6 overall record and a 7-3 conference mark. The Pirates’ 17 wins are the most under head coach Heather Macy and the most since the 2009-10 season in which East Carolina made an appearance in the WNIT. ECU owns an impressive 11-1 record at Minges Coliseum which is one win away from the Pirates’ highest win total at home. The Pirates’ only home loss came on November 17, 2012 against College of Charleston (72-62). ECU is averaging 64.4 points per game this season, while limiting their opponents to 54.2 to lead the conference, for a scoring margin of +10.2, which is a league best. The ECU defense has been solid this season as it is forcing 22.0 turnovers per game, while collecting 12.5 steals per contest, which is good for 10th in the nation. The Pirates have three double-figure scorers in Whitny Edwards (12.0 points per game), Celeste Stewart (11.7 ppg), and Britny Edwards (10.5 ppg). Britny Edwards is also the squad’s rebounding leader as she has collected 205 boards to average 8.9 per contest. She also leads the team in blocks with 30, along with a 50.2 shooting percentage. Whitny Edwards has been consistent for the Pirates all season as she averages 6.3 rebounds per game, and has added 39 steals and 41 assists. In addition to being the team’s second leading scorer, Stewart is the team leader in assists with 94. The senior point guard has been a major contributer as she has also posted 66 rebounds and 35 steals. Junior Kristine Mial has made an immediate impact since returning to the Pirates’ lineup after sitting out the first 10 games of the season due to an injury. Since her return, she is averaging 8.8 points per game and has collected 37 rebounds and 15 steals. Redshirt sophomore Kyani White has grabbed 55 steals to lead the Pirates and average 2.4 steals per game. White has also added 6.1 points per game, 73 assists, and 2.1 rebounds per game.

Scouting The Golden Eagles
Southern Miss comes to Minges Coliseum with a 12-11 overall mark and a 4-6 conference ledger. The Golden Eagles are looking to snap a three-game losing streak in which they have dropped contests to Tulsa (78-56), UTEP (60-55), and UCF (75-62). Southern Miss is shooting 39.6-percent from the field and holds a slight edge on its opponents in rebounding for a margin of +1.4. Jamierra Faulkner is the Golden Eagles’ leading scorer as she averages 18.4 points per game. The junior point guard also averages 4.1 rebounds per game, while leading the team in steals (79) and assists (141). Tanecka Carey is averaging 14.7 points per game, 4.4 rebounds per contest, and has added 38 steals, 35 assists, and 11 blocks on the year. Freshman guard Jerontay Clemons leads the squad in rebounding as she averages 6.7 boards per game to go along with 9.4 points per contest, 60 assists and 58 steals.

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 45-40 as the Pirates leader. Overall, Macy owns a 160-79 career record and is 96-45 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.

Southern Miss: Joy Lee-McNelis (Southern Miss, 1984) is in her ninth season as the head coach of the Southern Miss women’s basketball program and she has led her alma mater to a 123-145 overall record. Last season, McMelis had three players receive Conference USA honors including Tanecka Carey’s C-USA Newcomer of the Year award. This season her squad owns a record of 12-11 overall and 4-6 in C-USA action. Prior to returning to Southern Miss, McNelis was the head coach at Memphis where she guided the Tigers to a 229-156 record from 1991-2004.

The National Spotlight
As a team, East Carolina ranks in the Top 50 in six categories in NCAA Division I statistics. The Pirates are in 10th in steals per game (12.6), 10th three-point field goal defense (25.1), 17th in turnover margin (5.55), 44th in scoring defense (54.5), 45th assists per game (15.5), and 47th in field goal percent defense (35.9). The NCAA ranks the top 250 student-athletes and four Pirates rank in six categories. Redshirt sophomore Kyani White ranks 44th in assists to turnover ratio (1.87) and 128th in steals per game (2.36). Senior Celeste Stewart ranks 86th in assist to turnover ratio (1.59) and 112th in assists per game (4.0), while redshirt senior Britny Edwards ranks 82nd in rebounds per game (8.9) and 112th in blocked shots per game (1.32). Whitny Edwards ranks 181st in three-point field goals per game as she averages 1.87.

On This Date in ECU Women’s Basketball History
The East Carolina women’s basketball team has played in 16 contests on February 17th since the program’s inception. The first game that took place on that date was in 1972 when the Pirates defeated Old Dominion, 60-41. Since then, the Pirates have recorded a 10-6 record on February 17th, with their last contest taking place in 2011 against SMU. In that game, the ECU held off the Mustangs, 77-70, at Minges Coliseum. East Carolina is 8-5 on February 17th, when playing at Minges Coliseum and 4-2 when playing current conference opponents.

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 seventh in career blocks with 75, while Celeste Stewart sits in eighth with 328 career assists.

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 447-282. 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 23 points at Houston on February 7th, while the Cougar’s bench was limited to just eight points. In that contest, ECU defeated Houston, 68-59.

Cleaning up the Glass
Whitny Edwards and Britny Edwards have been doing their duty at the glass this season. The twins have totaled 349 rebounds as Britny has collected a team-leading 205 and Whitny has added 144. Britny is averaging 8.9 rebounds per game which is tied for fourth in the conference. Additionally, she is third in defensive rebounds per game (5.6) and fourth in offensive rebounds per game (3.3) in Conference USA. This season, Britny Edwards has recorded a pair of 15-plus rebound games, while on Sunday, February 3, Whitny Edwards notched a season-best 11 rebounds in the Pirates 59-48 win over UCF.

Getting Offensive
This season, the Pirates are outscoring their opponents 64.4 points per game to 54.2 to boast a scoring margin of +10.2, which leads the conference. A large part of the offense has come from seniors Whitny Edwards, Celeste Stewart, and Britny Edwards. Whitny is the Pirates’ leading scorer as she averages 12.0 points per game. Stewart is right behind her as she averages 11.7 points per game, while Britny Edwards is averaging 10.5 points per game.

Pirates Plunder, Pillage, and Steal
Sophomore guard Kyani White has collected 55 steals to average 2.4 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 in eighth place in Conference USA in steals per contest.

Thanks for the Assistance
Senior Celeste Stewart has dished out a team-leading 94 assists this season to average 4.1 assists per game which is good for a fourth-place tie in Conference USA statistics. She is currently in eighth place in the ECU career record books with 328 in her career. Stewart is fifth in the conference in assists to turnover ratio with a mark of 1.5. Redshirt sophomore Kyani White has amassed 73 assists on the year and she is second in C-USA in assist to turnover ratio (1.9).

Block Party
Redshirt senior Britny Edwards tied a career-high five blocks in the Pirates’ season opener at William & Mary. This season, Edwards has posted a team-leading 30 blocks to average 1.3 blocks per game which ties her for sixth 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. She is now ranked seventh on the all-time blocks list with a total of 75.

ECU as a Team in C-USA
As a team the Pirates lead Conference USA in five categories. East Carolina has set the standard in scoring defense (54.2), scoring margin (+10.2), three-point field goal percent defense (.253), steals per game (12.5), and turnover margin (+5.7). The Pirates rank in the top five in 16 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. Redshirt sophomore Kyani White is second in the conference in assist to turnover ratio (1.9) and is in eighth in steals per game (2.4). Redshirt senior Britny Edwards is tied for third in defensive rebounds (5.6), fourth in offensive rebounds (3.3), fourth in field goal percentage (.502), tied for fourth in rebounding (8.9), and tied for sixth in blocked shots (1.3). Senior Celeste Stewart is tied for fourth in assists per game (4.1), fifth in assist to turnover ratio (1.5), and eighth in three-point field goal percentage (.341). Redshirt senior Whitny Edwards is sixth in the conference in three-point field goals made per game as she averages 1.8.

Coming Up...
The Pirates will travel to Huntington, W. Va., to take on Marshall on Thursday, February 21. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. (ET). ECU and Marshall played earlier this season at Minges Coliseum and the Pirates defeated the Thundering Herd, 54-47, on January 31.