East Carolina Welcomes Tulsa on Senior Night

UABSPORTS.COM Carly Vendemia
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Carly Vendemia
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Feb. 28, 2014

Game 28: Tulsa at East Carolina
Date Saturday, March 1
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 its last regular-season home game on Saturday, March 1 against conference foe Tulsa at 5 p.m. The contest is senior day as the Pirates will honor seniors Kristine Mial and Carly Vendemia prior to tip-off.  Fans are encouraged to wear black for the Pirates’ “Blackout” game.

The Series
The Pirates and the Golden Hurricane will meet for the 13th time in program history and the all-time series is deadlocked at 6-6. Last season, the two teams met twice. East Carolina defeated Tulsa, 69-63, on January 20 at Minges Coliseum. The Golden Hurricane, however, claimed a 72-59 victory over ECU in the Conference USA tournament on March 15 in Tulsa.

Last Time Out
Middle Tennessee’s Ebony Rowe scored 23 points on 7-of-8 shooting to lead No. 23/25 Middle Tennessee past East Carolina, 70-59, Wednesday night. The Pirate loss snapped a 26-game home winning streak as ECU has now dropped three consecutive contests. East Carolina was led by Jada Payne’s 18 points. Payne also contributed six boards and two assists. J’Kyra Brown posted 10 points, five rebounds and one steal in the contest, while Janesha Ebron led the Pirates with a game-high six assists. Middle Tennessee made just 18-of-45 field goals and 4-of-13 three pointers, but recorded season highs by making 30-of-50 free throw attempts. East Carolina converted 8-of-17 (47.1-percent) from the line. The Blue Raiders took an early 6-2 advantage over the Pirates to open the game, but East Carolina quickly turned that deficit into a 16-8 lead after going on a 14-2 run. The Pirates pushed their lead to double digits, 21-10, at the 10:25 mark after a jumper from Payne. However, Middle Tennessee rallied with a 13-0 run to regain the lead, 23-21. The two team battled each other and ECU held a slight edge, 34-33, at halftime. The Blue Raiders opened the second half with a 13-2 run as ECU made just 1-of-11 field goals and committed six turnovers in the first 10 minutes. The Pirates never threatened again as they fell to Middle Tennessee by a score of 70-59, their largest margin of defeat all season.

About the Pirates
East Carolina is looking to get back on the winning track after dropping three straight contests to UTSA (61-60), UTEP (81-74), and No. 23/25 Middle Tennessee. The Pirates have compiled a 21-6 overall record and a 9-5 mark in Conference USA. The Pirates own a scoring offense of 72.2 points per game and their defense limits opponents to 61.2 points per game which ranks second in the conference and in the top 50 in the nation. ECU is a defensively strong team that limits teams to 35.6-percent shooting from the field which leads the conference and ranks 17th in the NCAA. The Pirates’ three-point field goal percent defense of 25.7 also leads the league and is good for sixth in the nation. The Pirates average 5.4  blocked shots per game which is good for first in C-USA and 16th in the NCAA. ECU’s steals per game average of 10.9 ranks tops the league and is ninth in the nation. ECU is led offensively by redshirt sophomore forward Jada Payne who averages 19.3 points per game to rank sixth in the league. She also leads the Pirates in rebounding with 7.4 boards per game for 10th place in the conference. Payne has contributed 45 assists, 37 steals, and five blocks on the year. Redshirt junior guard Abria Trice is the team’s second leading scorer with 15.5 points per game to go along with 4.9 rebounds per game, a team-best 46 steals, 36 assists and 16 blocks. Redshirt junior post Ondrea Shaw leads East Carolina with 87 blocks to average 3.2 per game which leads C-USA and ranks 10th in the nation. Shaw also adds 7.0 rebounds per game, which is tied for 12th in the league, 3.3 points per game, 31 steals and 14 assists.

Scouting the Golden Hurricane
Tulsa enters Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum with an 11-14 overall record and the Golden Hurricane is 5-9 in Conference USA action. The Golden Hurricane has struggled as of late going 1-7 in their last eight games. Their only victory during the month of February came against North Texas, 63-43. As a team, Tulsa is shooting 41.3-percent from the field, 34.1-percent from three-point range and 66.3-percent from the free throw line. The Golden Hurricane averages 68.8 points per game and has allowed 71.0. Tulsa’s opponents hold a slight advantage in rebounding as the Golden Hurricane averages 38.6 boards per game and their counterparts average 39.1. Tulsa owns the edge in assists averaging 13.8 helpers per contest, while their opponents average 13.4. The Golden Hurricane boasts three double-figure scorers led by sophomore guard Ashley Clark who averages 14.0 points per game to go along with a team-leading 6.1 rebounds per game, a team-best 86 assists, a team-high 41 steals and four blocks. Sophomore guard Kelsee Grovey is second on the team with 12.3 points per game, 2.4 rebounds per game, 77 assists, 33 steals and one block. Rounding out the Golden Hurricane’s double-figure scorers is junior forward Mariah Turner as she averages 10.7 points per game, while adding 5.2 rebounds per game, 16 steals, 15 assists, and a pair of blocks.

Home Sweet Home
Despite seeing their 26-game winning streak snapped after a 70-59 loss to No. 23/25 Middle Tennessee on Wednesday night, the Pirates are an impressive 13-1 when playing at Williams Arena inside Minges Coliseum this year. In two seasons, East Carolina has compiled a 27-2 record in Greenville, N.C. for a winning percentage of 93.1-percent.

In the Nation
In the NCAA’s weekly national statistical rankings East Carolina is ranked in the top 50 in nine categories. The Pirates are sixth in the nation in three-point field goal defense (25.5), ninth in steals per game (11.0), 16th in blocked shots per game (5.4), 17th in field goal percent defense (35.4), 24th in rebounding margin (+8.0), 25th in win-loss percentage (80.8), 31st in scoring margin (+11.9), 42nd in free throw percentage (73.8), and 48th in scoring defense (60.8).

20/20
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 seasons 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.

Pouring In The Points
The Pirates have a three double-figure scorers in redshirt sophomore forward Jada Payne, redshirt junior guard Abria Trice, and junior forward Shae Nelson. Payne leads the Pirates with 19.3 points per game, while Trice averages 15.5, and Nelson owns 10.4. Payne’s and Trice’s averages rank sixth and 10th, respectively, in the conference. As a team, ECU owns a scoring offense of 72.2 to rank fourth in the league, while the Pirates limit their opponents to 61.2 points per game for a scoring margin of +11.0 which ranks 31st in the nation.

Getting Defensive
A defensively strong team, East Carolina has limited its opponents to 61.2 points per game, while averaging 72.2 points per game for a scoring margin of +11.0. The Pirates’ scoring defense ranks second in the conference and their scoring margin is good for fourth. The marks are also ranked 31st (scoring margin) and 48th (scoring defense) in the NCAA, respectively. Additionally, the Pirates have collected 293 steals to average 10.9 per game to lead the league and place ninth in the nation. ECU has also forced their counterparts into 536 turnovers to average 19.9 per game. The Pirates have put up 145 blocks to average 5.4 per game which leads the league and ranks 16th in the nation.

Thanks For the Assistance
The Pirates have dished out 372 assists this season to average 13.8 per game which ranks fourth in Conference USA. Junior guard Janesha Ebron is the team-leader with 136 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 2.1.

Cleaning Up The Glass
The Pirates have accumulated 1,181 rebounds to average 43.7 per game which ranks second in Conference USA. In holding their opponents to 36.1 rebounds per game, the Pirates own a rebounding margin of +7.6 which leads C-USA and is good for 31st in the nation. Redshirt sophomore forward Jada Payne leads the team with 200 rebounds for an average of  7.4 boards per game.

Pirates Plunder, Pillage, and Steal
Like their namesake, the Pirates are known for steals. ECU has grabbed 293 steals this season to average 10.9 per game which is tops in Conference USA and ranks ninth in the NCAA. The Pirates have forced their opponents into 19.9 turnovers per game and own a turnover margin of +0.6. Redshirt junior guard Abria Trice leads the Pirates with 46 steals to average 1.78 per game to tie for 11th in the league.

Block Party
ECU has put up 145 blocks to average 5.4 per game which leads Conference USA statistics and is good for 16th 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 87 blocks for an average of 3.2 blocks per game which leads the conference and ranks her 10th in the NCAA. With 87 blocks, Shaw is ranked third in the ECU single-season record book and just eight blocks away from tying for first.

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 closes out the regular-season on Wednesday, March 5, when the Pirates travel to Norfolk, Va., to take on Old Dominion. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. Live video will be available on ODUSports.com.