Feb. 29, 2012
|Southern Miss at East Carolina
March 1, 2012 | 7:00 p.m. ET
Greenville, N.C. (Minges Coliseum)
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GREENVILLE, N.C. - Two Conference USA teams on quite a roll meet in Greenville to close the regular season Thursday as East Carolina battles Southern Miss at Minges Coliseum. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. and ECU will honor its two seniors, Bryelle Smith and Chareya Smith, before the contest.
The Pirates and Golden Eagles have combined to win 10 of their last 12 games with Southern Miss having captured six of its last seven. East Carolina looks to avenge a 67-57 loss in Hattiesburg earlier this season - its fourth-straight defeat at Reed Green Coliseum. The Golden Eagles will try to break a losing streak of their own at Minges Coliseum as they have not won in Greenville since 2007.
Last time out, the Pirates posted their first road win of the campaign with a 63-62 overtime triumph at Marshall on Sunday. Junior Shala Hodges provided the knockout blow when she cooly drained a three-pointer with three seconds left in the extra session to end up with 11 points. Chareya Smith paced all scorers with 18 and Katie Paschal added a career-best 13. Kristine Mial led ECU on the glass with seven rebounds and recorded personal-high totals of eight steals and five assists.
The Pirates shot just six free throws as compared to 24 for the home side, but shot 65 percent in the second half and 50 percent in the overtime period to aid in the victory. It is the 20th time since the start of the 2006-07 season that ECU has nailed more than 60 percent of its field goals in a half. Marshall grabbed 16 offensive rebounds as part of a 40-board effort but could put in just nine second-chance points. Play in the paint would favor East Carolina by a 38-24 count.
Inside the Matchup
THE SERIES: SOUTHERN MISS
East Carolina and Southern Miss meet for the 19th time Thursday in a series that began in 2002 . The Pirates own a slim 10-8 lead but have won seven of the last 11 meetings.
SURGING AS OF LATE
The Pirates have looked like a completely different team in recent weeks, having won four of five after suffering through a 14-game skid - the second-longest in program history.
KEEPING IT CLOSE OR BUILDING A LEAD
The victory over Houston ended a nine-game stretch where ECU allowed its opponents to build a double-digit lead. In the last four contests, the Pirates have trailed by no more than six points and raced out to a 25-point cushion against UCF - their fourth largest in a game this year.
FILLING THE HOOP
Since the start of the 2006-07 season, the Pirates have shot 60 percent or better in a half 19 times - including a 65-percent showing in the second half Sunday at Marshall.
CASHING IN ON THE FREEBIES
After suffering through a dismal stretch at the foul line to begin the season, the Pirates have dramatically improved at the stripe. During conference play, ECU is firing at 67 percent. At Southern Miss, East Carolina knocked down 14 of its 15 attempts from the line for season-best 93 percent - the highest for the Pirates since a 16-for-17 performance at Tulane on Jan. 13 of last season. ECU was clutch in the last two minutes of the wins over Marshall and Houston, hitting 12 of 15 free throws to seal the victories.
MIAL DIALED IN FROM RANGE
Sophomore Kristine Mial is getting it done from beyond the arc recently. In the last 10 games, she has hit 18 three-point field goals, including seven in the last three home wins. Mial has hit at least one three-pointer in 14 of the last 15 contests.
HOME IS WHERE THE WINS ARE
With a victory against Monmouth, ECU tied the longest home winning streak in program history at 12 before falling to VCU to snap the string. The Pirates last won 12-straight contests at Minges Coliseum during the 2009-10 campaign, beginning with the first game of the season and ending with a close five-point loss to eventual C-USA champion Tulane.
SUCCESS AT MINGES
With the victory over UCF on Feb. 23, East Carolina assured itself of a ninth-straight winning campaign at home. ECU has taken 15 of its last 21 overall and 10 of the last 15 in conference play at Minges Coliseum. Going even further back, the Pirates have captured 41 of the last 55 contests in Greenville.
2012 CONFERENCE USA CHAMPIONSHIP
The 2012 edition of the league tournament is scheduled for March 7-10 at the Elma Roane Fieldhouse and FedExForum in Memphis, Tenn. All 12 conference squads will compete in the event, with the winner taking the league's automatic bid to the 2012 NCAA Tournament. Last season, No. 2 seed UCF swept through UAB, Memphis and Tulane to claim the title. The Knights later fell to Ohio State on the Buckeyes' home court in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
With three (3) three-point field goals drained at Marshall Sunday, East Carolina has made at least two triples in 70-straight games.
IF IT WAS OVER TODAY
If the regular season ended today, ECU would serve as the No. 11 seed in the 2012 C-USA Women's Basketball Championship and prepare for a first-round matchup with sixth-seeded UCF. The winner of that contest would face No. 3 UAB in the quarterfinals.