ECU Closes Out Regular Season at Southern Miss

UABSPORTS.COM Tatiana Chapple
Tatiana Chapple

March 6, 2013

Game 29: East Carolina at Southern Miss
Date Thursday, March 7
Time 8 p.m. (EST)
Location Hattiesburg, Miss. | Reed Green Coliseum
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The East Carolina women’s basketball program looks to earn its 22 nd win of the season when it closes out the regular season at Southern Miss on Thursday, March 7. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m. (EST).

The Game: ECU at Southern Miss
East Carolina closes out the regular-season at Southern Miss. The Pirates and Golden Eagles will battle it out on Thursday, March 7, at 8 p.m. (EST) at Reed Green Coliseum.

The Series
The Pirates and Golden Eagles will meet for the 21st time in program history and ECU leads the all-time series 12-8. The two teams faced off earlier this season in Greenville, N.C., and East Carolina routed Southern Miss, 82-60.

Last Time Out
Behind 17 points from Whitny Edwards and 15 points from Kristine Mial, the Lady Pirates held Memphis, the conference offensive leader, to just 18.5-percent shooting in the first half en route to a 69-52 victory on Sunday. Whitny Edwards’ 17 points was just one shy of her career-best mark. The redshirt senior forward also added six rebounds, four steals and three assists in the contest. Mial came off the bench and amassed 15 points to go along with seven boards, and two steals. Tatiana Chapple led ECU in rebounds with a season-high eight, while adding three assists. Britny Edwards tied her career high with five blocks, all of which came in the first half, and contributed seven boards, six points, and two assists. Celeste Stewart posted nine points, five rebounds, four assists, and tied her season-high with four steals. The Pirates scored first and never looked back as they held the lead throughout the game. ECU used an 11-0 run in the first half to take a 35-11 lead at halftime. Although Memphis got things going in the second half, the Pirates never allowed them to get any closer than 12 points and ECU went on to defeat Memphis, 69-52, for the first time since 2010.

About the Pirates
East Carolina owns a 21-7 overall record and an 11-4 conference mark for second place in the Conference USA standings. ECU is averaging 64.4 points per game this year, while limiting its opponents to 54.4 to lead the conference, for a scoring margin of +9.9, which is a league best. The ECU defense has been solid this season as it is forcing 21.2 turnovers per game, while collecting 12.3 steals per contest, which is good for 10th in the nation. The Pirates have a pair of double-figure scorers in Whitny Edwards (12.1 points per game) and Celeste Stewart (11.5 ppg). Britny Edwards averages 9.7 points per game and is also the squad’s rebounding leader as she has collected 230 boards to average 8.2 per contest. She also leads the team in blocks with 38, along with 48.3-percent shooting. Whitny Edwards has been consistent for the Pirates all season as she averages 6.0 rebounds per game, and has added 50 steals and 53 assists. In addition to being the team’s second leading scorer, Stewart is the team leader in assists with 115. The senior point guard has been a major contributer as she has also posted 83 rebounds and 44 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 9.2 points per game and has collected 61 rebounds for an average of 3.1 per contest as well as 19 steals. Redshirt sophomore Kyani White has grabbed 63 steals to lead the Pirates and average 2.3 steals per game. White has also added 6.1 points per game, 88 assists, and 2.1 rebounds per game.

Scouting The Golden Eagles
Southern Miss enters the game against East Carolina with a 13-15 overall record and a 5-10 conference mark. The Golden Eagles are coming off of an 80-69 loss at Tulane and have lost seven of their last eight contests. As a team, Southern Miss averages 63.0 points per game and allows 64.8. The team is shooting nearly 40-percent from the field and averages 38.2 rebounds per game. Southern Miss has three double-figure scorers in Jamierra Faulkner (18.7 points per game), Tanecka Carey (14.7 ppg), and Jerontay Clemons (10.1 ppg). Clemons is also the squad’s leading rebounder with 189 to average 6.8 per game, while Faulkner leads the Golden Eagles in assists (186) and steals (94). Ance Celmina averages 6.8 points per game and 6.3 rebounds per contest to go along with a team-high 28 blocks, 22 assists and 14 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 49-41 as the Pirates leader. Overall, Macy owns a 164-80 career record and is 100-46 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 124-149 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 13-15 overall and 5-10 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.

Home Sweet Home
ECU is 14-1 when playing at Minges Coliseum. The Pirates captured their 14th home victory last Sunday against Memphis to mark the most wins at home in program history. Prior to this year’s squad’s 14 wins, the previous record of 13 wins was set at the end of the 1979-80 season in which the Lady Pirates finished the year with a 21-10 overall record and made an appearance in the NCAIAW Tournament.

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 in sixth place with 83 career blocks, while Celeste Stewart sits in eighth with 349 career assists.

“Winner, Winner Chicken Dinner”
The Pirates’ 21 wins are the most under head coach Heather Macy and the most for the women’s basketball program since the 2009-10 season in which East Carolina won 23 games and made an appearance in the WNIT. ECU’s 11 conference victories ties the most C-USA wins for a Pirate program which was set in 2006-07. That year, ECU went 11-5 in conference action, won the C-USA title, and made its second-ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament in program history.

On This Date in ECU Women’s Basketball History
The East Carolina women’s basketball team has played in just five contests on March 7th since the program’s inception. The first game that took place on that date was in 1975 when the Pirates dropped an 81-72 decision to Union in the AIAW Regionals. Since then, the Pirates have posted a 3-2 record on March 7th, with their last contest taking place last season at the Conference USA Tournament in Memphis, Tenn. In that game, the Pirates defeated Tulsa, 59-49, to advance to the C-USA Quarterfinals. In all of the games the Pirates have played on March 7th, all have been post-season contests with the exception of ECU’s 82-56 victory over UNC Wilmington in 1993.

The National Spotlight
As a team, East Carolina ranks in the Top 50 in eight categories in NCAA Division I statistics. The Pirates are in 10th in steals per game (12.3), 13th in three-point field goal percent defense (25.4), 24th in turnover margin (4.89), 36th in assists per game (15.5), 37th in scoring defense (54.4),  47th in win/loss percentage (75.0), and 50th in scoring margin (+9.9) and assist to turnover ratio (0.95). The NCAA ranks the top 250 student-athletes and four Pirates rank in six categories. Redshirt sophomore Kyani White ranks 74th in assists to turnover ratio (1.69) and 137th in steals per game (2.25). Senior Celeste Stewart ranks 107th in assists per game (4.1) and 110th in assist to turnover ratio (1.42), while redshirt senior Britny Edwards ranks 122nd in blocked shots per game (1.36) and 129th in rebounds per game (8.2). Whitny Edwards ranks 147th in three-point field goals per game as she averages 1.89.

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 423-329. 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 36 points against Memphis on March 3rd, while the Tigers’ bench was limited to just 11 points. In that contest, ECU defeated Memphis, 69-52.

Cleaning up the Glass
Whitny Edwards and Britny Edwards have been doing their duty at the glass this season. The twins have totaled 398 rebounds as Britny has collected a team-leading 230 and Whitny has added 168. Britny is averaging 8.2 rebounds per game which ranks her ninth in the conference. Additionally, she is tied for seventh in defensive rebounds per game (5.4) and tied for ninth in offensive rebounds per game (2.9) in C-USA.

Getting Offensive
This season, the Pirates are outscoring their opponents 64.4 points per game to 54.4 to boast a scoring margin of +9.9, which leads the conference and ranks in the top 50 in the nation. 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 12.1 points per game. Stewart is right behind her as she averages 11.5 points per game, while Britny Edwards is averaging 9.7 points per game.  

Pirates Plunder, Pillage, and Steal
Sophomore guard Kyani White has collected 63 steals to average 2.3 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 10th place in Conference USA in steals per contest.

Thanks for the Assistance
Senior Celeste Stewart has dished out a team-leading 115 assists this season to average 4.1 assists per game which is good for fifth place in Conference USA statistics. She is currently in eighth place in the ECU career record books with 349 in her career. Stewart is sixth in the conference in assists to turnover ratio with a mark of 1.4. Redshirt sophomore Kyani White has amassed 88 assists on the year and she is second in C-USA in assist to turnover ratio (1.7).

Block Party
Redshirt senior Britny Edwards tied her career-high five blocks in the Pirates’ season opener at William & Mary and did it again last Sunday against Memphis. This season, Edwards has posted a team-leading 38 blocks to average 1.4 blocks per game which is fourth in C-USA. She has amassed a total of 83 blocks to rank sixth in ECU career blocks.

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 (54.4), scoring margin (+9.9), three-point field goal percent defense (.254), steals per game (12.3), and turnover margin (+4.9). The Pirates rank in the top five in 15 of 21 categories in conference statistics.

ECU Players in C-USA
Individually, ECU has a number of players in the top 10 in conference statistics. Kyani White is second in the league in assist to turnover ratio (1.7) and 10th in steals per game (2.3). Britny Edwards is fourth in blocked shots per game (1.4), sixth in field goal percentage (.483), tied for seventh in defensive rebounds (5.4), ninth in rebounds per game (8.2), and tied for ninth in offensive rebounds (2.9). Celeste Stewart is fifth in assists per game (4.1), sixth in assist to turnover ratio (1.4), and 10th in three-point field goal percentage (.330). Whitny Edwards is in seventh place as she averages 1.9  three-point field goals made per game.