No. 5 Seed ECU Set to Take on No. 13 FIU at C-USA Tournament

UABSPORTS.COM Abria Trice
UABSPORTS.COM
Abria Trice
UABSPORTS.COM

March 10, 2014

Game 30: No. 13 FIU vs. No. 5 East Carolina
Date Wednesday, March 12
Time 3:30 p.m. (ET)
Location El Paso, Texas
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The Game
The East Carolina women's basketball team enters its final Conference USA Tournament as the No. 5 seed. The Pirates will take on the winner of the No. 12 Rice/No. 13 FIU game. ECU will tip-off at 3:30 p.m. (ET) on Wednesday, March 12, inside Memorial Gym in El Paso, Texas.

Coverage
East Carolina's game against Rice/FIU will air on the C-USA Digital Network. All first, second and quarterfinal round games will be shown on the C-USA Digital Network, while the semifinal and championship games will be televised by CBS Sports Network. To subscribe to the C-USA Digital Network, visit: http://www.conferenceusa.com/allaccess.

The Series vs. No. 12 Seed Rice
The Pirates and the Owls will meet for the 12th time in program history. East Carolina leads the all-time series 6-5. Earlier this season, the Pirates defeated Rice, 53-47 at Minges Coliseum on January 22, 2014. ECU has won the last two meetings against the Owls, as Rice has not been victorious over the Pirates since January 26, 2012 when the Owls routed the Pirates 66-44 in Houston, Texas.

The Series vs. No. 13 Seed FIU
The Pirates and the Panthers will square off for just the third time in program history. The all-time series is tied 1-1. Most recently, FIU held off East Carolina, 76-75 in overtime on January 11, 2014 to hand the Pirates their first C-USA loss of the year. ECU won the only other meeting between the two teams which took place on December 30, 2008 in Miami, Fla. In that contest, East Carolina was victorious by a score of 66-47.

About the Pirates
East Carolina heads into the C-USA Tournament after dropping an 87-78 decision at Old Dominion last Wednesday. The Pirates finished the regular season with an overall record of 22-7 to go along with a 10-6 Conference USA ledger and are the No. 5 seed in the tournament. The Pirates own a scoring offense of 72.6 points per game and their defense limits opponents to 62.3 points per game which ranks second in the conference. ECU is a defensively strong team that limits teams to 36-percent shooting from the field which leads the conference and ranks 23rd in the NCAA. The Pirates' three-point field goal percent defense of 26.6 also leads the league and is good for 10th in the nation. The Pirates average 5.4 blocked shots per game which is good for first in C-USA and 13th in the NCAA. ECU's steals per game average of 10.7 ranks second in the league and is 12th in the nation. ECU is led offensively by redshirt sophomore forward Jada Payne who averages 18.8 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 50 assists, 40 steals, and five blocks on the year. Redshirt junior guard Abria Trice is the team's second leading scorer with 15.2 points per game to go along with 4.8 rebounds per game, a team-best 49 steals, 37 assists and 16 blocks. Redshirt junior post Ondrea Shaw leads East Carolina with a school record 98 blocks to average 3.4 per game which leads C-USA and ranks eighth in the nation. Shaw also adds 6.9 rebounds per game, which is good for 14th in the league, 3.1 points per game, 33 steals and 15 assists.

Scouting the Owls
Rice comes into the Conference USA Tournament as the No. 12 seed after closing the regular season with a 61-51 victory at UAB last Wednesday. The Owls own a 13-16 overall record and are 6-10 in Conference USA action. As a team, Rice is shooting 38.9-percent from the field, 26.7-percent from beyond the arc and 67.6-percent from the free throw line. The Owls average 62.3 points per game and have allowed 65.5. Rice holds the edge over opponents in rebounding as the Owls average 41.6 boards per game to their counterparts' 40.0. The Owls average 12.7 assists per game to go along with 5.9 steals per contest and 3.3 blocks per game. Senior forward Jessica Kuster is the Owls' leading scorer as she averages 20.8 points per game to rank third in the conference. Kuster also leads Rice in rebounding with 13.4 boards per contest which leads C-USA. She has also contributed 74 assists, a team-best 46 steals, and a team-leading 42 blocks. She is the Owls' only double figure scorer. Junior guard Reem Moussa is the Owls' leader in assists with 90. She also adds 3.9 points per game, 1.7 rebounds per game and 20 steals on the year.

Scouting the Panthers
FIU travels to El Paso, Texas for its first-ever appearance in the Conference USA Tournament. The Panthers closed the regular season with three straight losses and are looking to get back on the winning track at the C-USA Tournament. FIU has compiled a 12-17 overall record and is 6-10 in league play as the No. 13 seed. The Panthers lead C-USA with a free throw percentage of 75.8. Additionally, FIU shoots 39-percent from the field and 30.5-percent from three-point range. The Panthers own a scoring offense of 68.4, while allowing 69.0 points per game. FIU holds the rebounding advantage over its opponents as the Panthers average 40.2 boards per game to their counterparts' 37.3. FIU has accumulated 313 assists for an average of 10.8, while also averaging 6.1 steals per game and 3.3 blocks per contest. Jerica Coley, a senior guard, is the Panthers' leading scorer as she averages a Conference USA-best 29.6 points per game to go along with 6.8 rebounds per game, a team-best 118 assists, a team-leading 51 steals and 39 blocks which also leads the Panthers. Junior forward Tynia McKinzie leads FIU in rebounding as she averages 7.1 boards per game to rank 11th in the league. She also averages 8.7 points per game while adding 42 assists, 32 steals and a pair of blocks.

Home Sweet Home
East Carolina finished the regular season with an impressive 14-1 record while playing at Williams Arena inside Minges Colisuem. In two seasons, East Carolina has compiled a 28-2 record in Greenville, N.C. for a winning percentage of 93.3-percent.

In the Nation
In the NCAA's weekly national statistical rankings East Carolina is ranked in the top 50 in seven categories. The Pirates are 10th in the nation in three-point field goal defense (26.6), 12th in steals per game (10.7), 13th in blocked shots per game (5.4), 23rd in field goal percent defense (36.0), 33rd in rebounding margin (+7.0), 37th in win-loss percentage (75.9), and 45th in scoring margin (+10.3).

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 18.8 points per game, while Trice averages 15.2, and Nelson owns 10.7. Payne's and Trice's averages rank sixth and 10th, respectively, in the conference. As a team, ECU owns a scoring offense of 72.6 to rank fourth in the league, while the Pirates limit their opponents to 62.3 points per game for a scoring margin of +10.3 which ranks 45th in the nation.

Getting Defensive
A defensively strong team, East Carolina has limited its opponents to 62.3 points per game, while averaging 72.6 points per game for a scoring margin of +10.3. The Pirates' scoring defense ranks second in the conference and their scoring margin is good for fourth. The marks are also ranked 45th (scoring margin) and 63rd (scoring defense) in the NCAA, respectively. Additionally, the Pirates have collected 310 steals to average 10.7 per game to place second in the league and 12th in the nation. ECU has also forced their counterparts into 566 turnovers to average 19.5 per game. The Pirates have put up 157 blocks to average 5.4 per game which leads the league and ranks 13th in the nation.

Thanks For the Assistance
The Pirates have dished out 410 assists this season to average 14.1 per game which ranks fourth in Conference USA. Junior guard Janesha Ebron is the team-leader with 148 helpers on the year to average 5.1 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 1,267 rebounds to average 43.7 per game which ranks second in Conference USA. In holding their opponents to 36.7 rebounds per game, the Pirates own a rebounding margin of +7.0 which leads C-USA and is good for 33rd in the nation. Redshirt sophomore forward Jada Payne leads the team with 216 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 310 steals this season to average 10.7 per game which ranks second in Conference USA and 12th in the NCAA. The Pirates have forced their opponents into 19.5 turnovers per game and own a turnover margin of +0.7. Redshirt junior guard Abria Trice leads the Pirates with 49 steals to average 1.7 per game to tie for 12th in the league.

Block Party
ECU has put up 157 blocks to average 5.4 per game which leads Conference USA statistics and is good for 13th in the nation. The Pirates have limited their opponents to 3.5 blocks per game on the year. Junior post Ondrea Shaw leads the team with 98 blocks for an average of 3.3 blocks per game which leads the conference and ranks her eighth in the NCAA. With 98 blocks, Shaw set a new ECU single-season record, breaking the previous standard that was set during

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.