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Lady Pirates Open WNIT First Round at Western Kentucky

Go Tigers! Kristine Mial
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Kristine Mial
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March 20, 2013

Game 3: East Carolina at Western Kentucky
Date Thursday, March 21
Time 8 p.m. (ET)
Location Bowling Green, Ky. | E.A. Diddle Arena
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GREENVILLE, N.C. - The East Carolina women's basketball team opens action in the Women's National Invitational Tournament at Western Kentucky on Thursday, March 21. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m. (ET) at E.A. Diddle Arena in Bowling Green, Ky.

The Game: East Carolina at Western Kentucky
East Carolina will makes its second-ever appearance in the Women's National Invitational Tournament on Thursday, March 21, at Western Kentucky. The Pirates and the Hilltoppers will face off at 8 p.m. (ET) at E.A. Diddle Arena in Bowling Green, Ky. Live stats, video, and audio will be available on ECUPirates.com.

The Series
The contest between the Pirates and Hilltoppers marks just the third ever meeting between the two teams in program history and the series is knotted at 1-1. ECU and Western Kentucky will face off for the first time in 30 years as the last time they squared off was on January 3, 1983. In that contest, WKU defeated the Pirates, 76-44, in Bowling Green. ECU was last victorious over Western Kentucky on February 21, 1982, when the Pirates cruised past the Hilltoppers, 108-54, at Minges Coliseum at the Lady Pirate Classic.

Last Time Out
The Pirates dropped a 72-59 decision to eventual C-USA Tournament Champion Tulsa in the semifinals of the Conference USA Tournament last week. In that contest, three Pirates scored in double-figures, but ECU could not overcome nearly 60-percent shooting from the Golden Hurricane in the second half as Tulsa rallied for the win. Britny Edwards led ECU with a season-high 20 points and added a team-best eight rebounds, three blocks, one steal, and one assist. Celeste Stewart contributed 12 points, two assists, a pair of steals, and one rebound, while Kyani White recorded her second double-figure performance in as many days with 10 points. Whitny Edwards posted eight rebounds, while Krisine Mial added eight points, and Colleen Marshall led ECU with three assists to go along with four points, three boards, and one steal. The Pirates led by as many as 15 points (42-27), but Tulsa chipped away at East Carolina's lead and came from behind to win the game in the final minutes by a score of 72-59.

About the Pirates
East Carolina owns a 22-9 overall record and an 11-5 conference mark as the Pirates finished second in C-USA. ECU is averaging 65.0 points per game this year, while limiting its opponents to 55.8, for a scoring margin of +9.2, which is a league best. The ECU defense has been solid this season as it is forcing 21.0 turnovers per game, while collecting 12.3 steals per contest, which is good for eighth in the nation. The Pirates have three double-figure scorers in Whitny Edwards (12.0 points per game), Celeste Stewart (11.2 ppg), and Britny Edwards (10.1 ppg). Britny Edwards, who was named to the C-USA All-Defensive Team, is also the squad's rebounding leader as she has collected 257 boards to average 8.3 per contest. Additionally, she leads the team in blocks with 42 to go along with 47.7-percent shooting. Whitny Edwards has been consistent for the Pirates all season as she averages 6.2 rebounds per game, and has added 56 steals and 57 assists. In addition to being the team's second leading scorer, Stewart is the team leader in assists with 125. The senior point guard has been a major contributer as she has also posted 89 rebounds and 50 steals en route to being named to the All-C-USA First Team. 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 9.6 points per game and has collected 73 rebounds for an average of 3.5 per contest as well as 23 steals. Her impressive performance earned her C-USA Sixth Player of the Year accolades. Redshirt sophomore Kyani White has grabbed 70 steals to lead the Pirates and average 2.3 steals per game. White has also added 6.4 points per game and 94 assists.

Scouting The Hilltoppers
Western Kentucky enters the game against East Carolina with a 21-10 overall record. The Hilltoppers finished second in the East Division of the Sun Belt Conference with a 13-7 record. WKU went 1-1 in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament as the Hilltoppers defeated Louisiana-Lafeyette, 61-57, in the Quarterfinals before falling to Arkansas-Little Rock, 74-54, in the Semifinals. The Hilltoppers are averaging 68.2 points per game and allowing 65.1, for a scoring margin of +3.1. As a team, WKU is shooting 42.5-percent from the field and the Hilltopper defense is forcing 19.3 turnovers per contest. Chastity Gooch, Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Year and an All-SBC First Team selection, leads the team with 11.3 rebounds per game, 75 steals and 60 blocks. Additionally, she averages 15.7 points per game and is shooting a team-best 48.9-percent from the field. Gooch has notched 24 double-doubles on the year to rank third in the nation. Alexis Govan is the Hilltoppers' leading scorer as she averages 20.1 points per game to go along with 5.9 rebounds per contest. Govan, an All-SBC First Team selection, has also contributed 60 assists, 53 steals, and 14 blocks, while shooting 46.7-percent. Bianca McGee is the squad's third double-figure scorer with 12.2 points per game. The junior guard adds 3.0 boards per contest, 37 assists, and 18 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 50-42 as the Pirates' leader. Overall, Macy owns a 165-81 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 en route to being named C-USA Coach of the Year. 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.

Western Kentucky: Michelle Clark-Heard (Western Kentucky, 1990) is in her first year at the helm of the Western Kentucky women's basketball program and has led her alma mater to a 21-10 overall record and a 13-7 Sun Belt mark. At the conclusion of the regular-season, Clark-Heard was named SBC Coach of the Year after taking a team that went 9-21 in 2011-12 to winning 20-games marking one of the biggest turnarounds in Sun Belt Conference history. Clark-Heard came to WKU from Louisville where she served as an assistant coach from 2007-12. In her five seasons with the Cardinals, Louisville made three Sweet 16 appearances and made its first Final Four appearance, finishing as the National Runner-Up in 2009. Clark-Heard was instrumental in bringing in the No. 12 recruiting class in 2008, then followed with three consecutive Top 10 classes in 2009, 2010, and 2011. The 2010 recruiting class was the highest-ranked class in school history, ranked fifth in the nation. Clark-Heard gained head coaching experience at Kentucky State from 2005-2007 after working as an assistant coach at Cincinnati and Nebraska.

"Winner, Winner Chicken Dinner"
The Pirates' 22 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.

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 503-357. 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 37 points against Southern Miss on March 14th, while the Golden Eagles' bench was limited to just 12 points. In that contest, ECU rolled over Southern Miss, 89-60.

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 Mial turned in a 20-point performance of her own at Houston on February 7. Most recently, Britny Edwards drained 20 points at Tulsa on March 15 in the Semifinals of the C-USA Tournament. On the year, Mial is averaging 9.6 points per game, while Stewart is the Pirates' second leading scorer as she averages 11.2 points per contest, and Britny Edwards is averaging 10.1 points per game.

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 tied for fifth place with 87 career blocks, while Celeste Stewart sits in sixth with 359 career assists.

Cleaning up the Glass
Whitny Edwards and Britny Edwards have been doing their duty at the glass this season. The twins have totaled 448 rebounds as Britny has collected a team-leading 257 and Whitny has added 191. Britny is averaging 8.3 rebounds per game which ranks her seventh in the conference. Additionally, she is in 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 65.0 points per game to 55.8 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 12.0 points per game, while Stewart is right behind her as with 11.2 points per game.

Pirates Plunder, Pillage, and Steal
Sophomore guard Kyani White has collected 70 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 125 assists this season to average 4.0 assists per game which is good for fourth place in Conference USA statistics. She is currently in sixth place in the ECU career record books with 359 in her career. Stewart is fifth in the conference in assist to turnover ratio with a mark of 1.5. Redshirt sophomore Kyani White has amassed 94 assists on the year and she is second in C-USA in assist to turnover ratio (1.6).

Block Party
Redshirt senior Britny Edwards tied her career-high five blocks on two occasions this season. On the year, Edwards has posted a team-leading 42 blocks to average 1.3 blocks per game which ranks her fourth in C-USA. She has amassed a total of 87 blocks to rank tied for fifth in ECU career blocks.

Sister Act
Twin sisters Britny and Whitny Edwards not only lead by example, but they also are the team's leaders both offensively and defensively. Britny owns a team-best 257 rebounds to average 8.3 boards per game, while Whitny is the Pirates' scoring leader with 371 points to average 12.0 points per contest. Additionally, Britny also leads the squad with 42 blocks and 47.7-shooting.

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 margin (+9.2), three-point field goal percent defense (.264), steals per game (12.3), turnover margin (+5.1), and offensive rebounds per game (15.7). The Pirates rank in the top five in 16 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 ranked fourth in blocked shots per game (1.3), seventh in field goal percentage (.477), seventh in rebounds per game (8.3), seventh in defensive rebounds (5.3), and eighth in offensive rebounds (3.0). Celeste Stewart is fourth in assists per game (4.0), and fifth in assist to turnover ratio (1.5). Whitny Edwards is 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 Jackson rode 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' 31 games and is the team's scoring leader with 12.0 points per game. White has started in 30 of ECU's 31 games and she leads the Pirates in steals (70), while adding 94 assists which is good for second on the team. Jackson has seen action in all 31 games this season and is shooting 40.2-percent from the field, while averaging 4.5 points per game and 3.8 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.