Lady Pirates to Face Southern Miss in C-USA Tournament

Chanel Green

March 12, 2013

Game 30: No. 2 Seed East Carolina vs. No. 10 Seed Southern Miss
Date Thursday, March 14
Time 8:30 p.m. (ET)
Location Tulsa, Okla. | Tulsa Convention Center
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The Game: No. 2 Seed  ECU vs. No. 10 Seed Southern Miss
East Carolina will open the Conference USA Tournament against No. 10 seed Southern Miss. Tip-off is slated for 8:30 p.m. (ET) on Thursday, March 14, at the Tulsa Convention Center.

The Series vs. Southern Miss
The Pirates and Golden Eagles will meet for the 22nd time in program history and ECU leads the all-time series 12-9. ECU and Southern Miss played each other on two separate occasions earlier this season. On February 17, the Pirates routed the Golden Eagles 82-60, in Greenville, N.C., however, Southern Miss came out victorious over ECU, 75-66, in Hattiesburg, Miss., on March 7. The Pirates and Golden Eagles have faced each other once in the C-USA Tournament, and ECU rolled over Southern Miss 102-64 in the first round of the 2010 Conference USA Tournament in Tulsa, Okla.

Last Time Out
The Pirates closed out the regular season with a 75-66 loss at Southern Miss last Thursday. East Carolina was unable to overcome a hot-shooting performance from the Golden Eagles as they shot nearly 60-percent in the game, 42.9-percent from beyond the arc and 52.9-percent from the free throw line. Whitny Edwards led the Pirates with 17 points, eight rebounds, three steals, one block and one assist. Kristine Mial also scored in double-figures with 11 points, while Britny Edwards led both teams with a game-high 12 rebounds. Ariana Jackson came off the bench and notched nine boards to go along with eight points and three steals. Celeste Stewartdished out a team-best four assists, five points, three steals, and one rebound. ECU got off to a slow start as it trailed by as many as 20 points in the first half. The Pirates pulled within seven points of the Golden Eagles on several occasions, but ECU was unable to close the gap as the Pirates dropped a 75-66 decision to Southern Miss.

About the Pirates
East Carolina owns a 21-8 overall record and an 11-5 conference mark for the No. 2 seed in the Conference USA Tournament. ECU is averaging 64.4 points per game this year, while limiting its opponents to 55.1, for a scoring margin of +9.3, which is a league best. The ECU defense has been solid this season as it is forcing 21.3 turnovers per game, while collecting 12.4 steals per contest, which is good for eighth in the nation. The Pirates have a pair of double-figure scorers in Whitny Edwards (12.3 points per game) and Celeste Stewart (11.2 ppg). Britny Edwards averages 9.6 points per game and is also the squad's rebounding leader as she has collected 242 boards to average 8.3 per contest. She also leads the team in blocks with 38, along with 47.4-percent shooting. Whitny Edwards has been consistent for the Pirates all season as she averages 6.1 rebounds per game, and has added 53 steals and 54 assists. In addition to being the team's second leading scorer, Stewart is the team leader in assists with 119. The senior point guard has been a major contributer as she has also posted 84 rebounds and 47 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 9.3 points per game and has collected 61 rebounds for an average of 3.2 per contest as well as 19 steals. Redshirt sophomore Kyani Whitehas grabbed 66 steals to lead the Pirates and average 2.3 steals per game. White has also added 6.1 points per game and 88 assists.

Scouting No. 10 Seed Southern Miss
Southern Miss enters the game against East Carolina with a 14-15 overall record and a 6-10 conference mark for the No. 10 seed. The Golden Eagles are coming off of a 75-66 victory over East Carolina on March 7. Southern Miss closed the regular-season winning two of its last three games. As a team, the Golden Eagles average 63.4 points per game and allow 64.9. The team is shooting 40.6-percent from the field and averages 37.9 rebounds per game. Southern Miss has three double-figure scorers in Jamierra Faulkner (18.8 points per game), Tanecka Carey (15.0 ppg), and Jerontay Clemons (10.0 ppg). Clemons is also the squad's leading rebounder with 195 to average 6.7 per game, while Faulkner leads the Golden Eagles in assists (191) and steals (96). Ance Celmina averages 6.9 points per game and 6.3 rebounds per contest to go along with a team-high 30 blocks, 25 assists, and 14 steals.

The Coaches
East Carolina: Head Coach Heather Macy(Greensboro College, 2000) is in her third year at the helm of the ECU women's basketball team and holds a record of 49-42 as the Pirates' leader. Overall, Macy owns a 164-81 career record and is 100-47 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. This season, Macy has turned things around after a losing season during her second year with the Pirates and has led ECU to its first 20-win season since 2009-10. 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 Sweet 16. 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:Joye 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 125-149 overall record. Last season, McNelis 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 14-15 overall and 6-10 in C-USA action with a pair of All-CUSA selections. 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.

Bye, Bye, Bye
This is the first time in East Carolina basketball history that both the men's and women's teams have earned a first round bye in the conference tournament. The Lady Pirates finished the regular season with a 21-8 overall record and an 11-5 C-USA mark, while the ECU men's team closed out the regular-season with an overall record of 18-11 and a 9-7 conference ledger.

"Winner, Winner Chicken Dinner"
The Pirates' 21 wins are the most under head coach Heather Macyand 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.

Home Sweet Home
ECU closed out the regular-season with an impressive 14-1 record when playing at Minges Coliseum. The Pirates captured their 14th home victory on March 3 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 victories 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.

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 451-335. 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.

Pouring in the Points
Earlier this season Celeste Stewart recorded the first 20-point performance of her career after tallying 21 versus Rice on January 10. The senior point guard came back one month later and poured in a career-best 26-point effort at UAB. Not to be outdone by Stewart, junior Kristine Mialturned in a 20-point performance of her own at Houston on February 7. On the year, Mial is averaging 9.3 points per game, while Stewart is the Pirates' second leading scorer as she averages 11.2 points per contest.

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 Stewartsits in eighth with 353 career assists.

Cleaning up the Glass
Whitny Edwards and Britny Edwardshave been doing their duty at the glass this season. The twins have totaled 418 rebounds as Britny has collected a team-leading 242 and Whitny has added 176. Britny is averaging 8.3 rebounds per game which ranks her seventh in the conference. Additionally, she is tied for seventh in defensive rebounds per game (5.3) and eighth in offensive rebounds per game (3.0) in C-USA.

Getting Offensive
This season, the Pirates are outscoring their opponents 64.4 points per game to 55.1 to boast a scoring margin of +9.3, which leads the conference and ranks 51st in the nation. A large part of the offense has come from seniors Whitny Edwards and Celeste Stewart. Edwards is the Pirates' leading scorer as she averages 12.3 points per game, while Stewart is right behind her as with 11.2 points per game.

Pirates Plunder, Pillage, and Steal
Sophomore guard Kyani Whitehas collected 66 steals to average 2.3 steals per game for ECU. Earlier this season in a game 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 119 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 353 in her career. Stewart is fifth in the conference in assist to turnover ratio with a mark of 1.5. Redshirt sophomore Kyani Whitehas amassed 88 assists on the year and she is second in C-USA in assist to turnover ratio (1.6).

Block Party
Redshirt senior Britny Edwardstied her career-high five blocks on two occasions this season. On the year, Edwards has posted a team-leading 38 blocks to average 1.3 blocks per game which is tied for fourth in C-USA. She has amassed a total of 83 blocks to rank sixth in ECU career blocks.

Sister Act
Twin sisters Britny and Whitny Edwardsnot only lead by example, but they also are the team's leaders both offensively and defensively. Britny owns a team-best 242 rebounds to average 8.3 boards per game, while Whitny is the Pirates' scoring leader with 357 points to average 12.3 points per contest. Additionally, Britny also leads the squad with 38 blocks and a 47.4-shooting percentage.

ECU as a Team in C-USA
As a team the Pirates lead Conference USA in four categories. East Carolina has set the standard in scoring margin (+9.3), three-point field goal percent defense (.262), steals per game (12.4), 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 (1.6) and 10th in steals per game (2.3). Britny Edwards is tied for fourth in blocked shots per game (1.3), sixth in field goal percentage (.474), seventh in rebounds per game (8.3), tied for seventh in defensive rebounds (5.3), and eighth in offensive rebounds (3.0). Celeste Stewart is fifth in assists per game (4.1), and fifth in assist to turnover ratio (1.5). Whitny Edwardsis in seventh place as she averages 1.9 three-point field goals made per game.

Redshirts Stepping Up
Last season, Whinty Edwards, Kyani White and Ariana Jacksonrode the bench as redshirts. After transferring to ECU from Virginia, Edwards only had one year of eligibility remaining and redshirted last season. White was a transfer from Virginia Tech and was forced to redshirt due to rules regarding NCAA transfer athletes. Jackson sat out due to a knee injury. This season, each player has stepped up and made key contributions to the team. Edwards has started in all of the Pirates' 29 games and is the team's scoring leader with 12.3 points per game. White has started in 28 of ECU's 29 games and she leads the Pirates in steals (66), while adding 88 assists which is good for second on the team. Jackson has seen action in all 29 games this season and is shooting 41.3-percent from the field, while averaging 4.7 points per game and 4.0 rebounds per game.

Bound and Determined
In her two years at ECU, Britny Edwards has led the Pirates in rebounds as both a redshirt junior, averaging 7.0 boards per game, and this year as a redshirt senior, pulling down 8.3 rebounds per game. Last season, Edwards tallied her first 15-rebound performance with 18 boards versus Jacksonville on December 18, 2011. This season, Edwards has notched a pair of 15-rebound contests with her first coming at Memphis on January 17 when she grabbed 17 boards. On February 3, Edwards registered 15 rebounds against UCF to mark her third 15-rebound effort in purple and gold.