Pirates Host ECU Thanksgiving Tournament

UABSPORTS.COM Shawnda Robinson
Shawnda Robinson

Nov. 23, 2012

Game 6: Campbell at East Carolina
Date Sunday, Nov. 25
Time 4:30 p.m. (ET)
Location Greenville, N.C. | Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum
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The East Carolina women’s basketball team is gearing up to host its annual Thanksgiving Tournament Saturday, Nov. 24 and Sunday, Nov. 25. The four-team tournament will consist of Norfolk State, Appalachian State and Campbell. All games will be played at Williams Arena in Minges Coliseum.

The ECU Thanksgiving Tournament will open with the Pirates playing host to Norfolk State at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 24, followed by a Campbell-Appalachian State match-up scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 25, will pit Appalachian State against Norfolk State for a 2 p.m. contest, and will conclude with East Carolina and Campbell with a 4:30 p.m. tip-off.

All fans who bring an unused, unwrapped toy for the Toys for Tots promotion will receive free admission to the ECU games.

Live stats will be available for all tournament contests. Both ECU games will feature live video and a live broadcast on ECUPirates.com.

ECU Hosts Norfolk State, Campbell in Thanksgiving Tournament
East Carolina will welcome Norfolk State and Campbell to Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum for the Pirates’ annual Thanksgiving Tournament. Last year, ECU swept through the tournament as the Pirates collected a pair of wins over Delaware State, 54-47, and Elon, 60-46. In 2010-11, the first year of the tournament, ECU went 1-1 as the Pirates started the tournament with a 76-60 loss to Maryland before defeating UMass 97-83. Appalachian State will round out the four-team tournament, although will not face the Pirates. The Spartans will enter the tournament with a 1-2 record, while the Mountaineers are 1-1, and the Camels are 4-0 to start the year. East Carolina will play host to the trio of teams in the tournament and the Pirates hold a 3-1 record.

The Series vs. Norfolk State
The Pirates and Spartans will meet for the third time in program history and the all-time series is currently tied at one game apiece. Norfolk State won the last meeting, which took place on November 19, 1999, by a score of 64-60 in Norfolk, Va. Previously ECU was victorious, 97-76, on December 30, 1998 in Greenville.

The Series vs. Campbell
The Pirates and Camels will square off for the 38th time in program history and ECU leads, 31-6. Despite their many encounters, Sunday’s meeting will be the first since January 11, 2003. During that contest, the Pirates defeated the Camels, 72-45, at Minges Coliseum.

Last Time Out
East Carolina went 1-1 last week after dropping a 72-62 decision to College of Charleston before rolling past Converse College, 79-23, the following day. In the contest against CofC, Britny Edwards led the team in scoring with a 15-point, 12-rebound performance for her first double-double of the year. Additionally, she notched a game-high three steals and two assists. Whitny Edwards turned in another solid performance as she tallied 12 points and nine rebounds. Celeste Stewart chipped in five points, a team-high four assists, two rebounds, and a pair of steals. Against Converse, Whitny Edwards poured in a game-high 17 points along with four boards, four assists, and as many steals. Kyani White led the game with eight steals to tie for sixth in the ECU single-game records. White also posted seven assists, two rebounds and a block in the contest. Ariana Jackson came off the bench and narrowly missed a double-double as she notched 10 rebounds and nine points to go along with two assists and a pair of steals. As a team, ECU collected 32 steals to rank third in the all-time single-game record book, while dishing out 25 assists which is good for a seventh place tie in the East Carolina single-game annals.

Scouting The Spartans
Norfolk State will come to Greenville with a 1-2 record after opening the season with a 60-51 win over Penn, followed by a pair of loss to USC-Upstate (71-64 OT), and Texas Southern (68-53). The contest at ECU marks the Spartans first road match of the season. Top performers for Norfolk State include junior guard Kashay Barnes who leads the team in scoring as she averages 12.0 points per game. Barnes has tallied a team-high 36 points and added six rebounds, with five steals and one block for the Spartans thus far. Quineshia Leonard is the Spartans’ center and has started in all three of Norfolk State’s games this season. Leonard has tallied 35 points (11.7 ppg), 28 boards (9.3 rpg), and three blocks on the season. Junior forward Rachel Gordon is the team’s leading rebounder with 41 (13.7 rpg). Additionally, Gordon has chipped in 18 points, four steals, three assists and two blocks. Recca Trice, a senior guard, has been a consistent force on the court for the Spartans this season as she leads the team in steals (6) and has added 17 points, 15 assists, five rebounds, and one block. As a team, the Spartans are shooting 34.1-percent.

Scouting The Camels
Campbell enters Minges Coliseum with a 4-0 record as the Camels have kicked off the season with four consecutive wins over Barber-Scotia, 102-33, Western Carolina, 55-40, N.C. Central, 67-51, and Mount St. Mary’s, 54-48. Senior guard Tonisha Baker leads the team with 53 points (13.3 ppg), 19 rebounds (4.8 rpg), 14 assists, 14 steals and two blocks. She has started in all four contests and has accumulated 113 minutes of action. Zena Lovette, a freshman guard, has registered 38 points (9.5 ppg), with eight boards, nine assists, six steals and five blocks. Ashley James is the team’s leader in rebounding with 30 (7.5 rpg). James has also added 24 points, a team-best six blocks, five steals, and as many assists. As a team, the Camels are shooting 46.5-percent, while limiting their opponents to 26.6-percent shooting. Campbell has outscored their opponents 278-172 on the year and is averaging 69.5 points per game.

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 31-35 as the Pirates leader. Overall, Macy owns a 146-74 overall record and is 89-42 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.

Norfolk State: Debra Clark has begun her fourth season as the head coach of the Norfolk State women’s basketball team. Since her hiring in 2009, Clark has rebuilt a team that posted just one win a year prior to her hiring. With Clark at the helm, the Spartans have improved on their number of wins each year. Last year, she led her squad to a 12-17 overall record and put an end to a 40-game road conference losing streak which included a 28-game losing streak to CAA opponents with a victory over George Mason to mark the first win over a CAA opponent since the 1999-2000 season. The season includes her first recruiting class that are now seniors  and Clark has thus far led her squad to a 1-2 record to start the season.

Campbell: Wanda Watkins (Campbell, 1979) has kicked off her 32nd year as the head coach of the Campbell women’s basketball team with a 4-0 record. Watkins is one of the longest tenured coaches in NCAA women’s basketball history and has gathered countless honors and milestones during her 30 year stay at Campbell. She is the 25th winningest active coach in the Division I ranks, and is approaching the women’s basketball’s Top 50 in all-time wins. Since being named head coach in 1981, Watkins has led her teams to a 482-390 mark and has recorded 20 winning records. She is the all-time wins leader in Lady Camel basketball history. Under her guidance, 45 players have earned all-conference honors, with 18 in the Big South and 27 during the program’s time in the A-Sun. Last season, she led Campbell to an 18-12 overall mark and an 11-7 record. This season, Watkins’ team is outscoring their opponents by over 100 points (278-172) and is averaging 69.5 points per game.

Closing in on the Top 10
A trio of Pirates are close to breaking into the East Carolina career record book. Senior Shala Hodges is 16 three-pointers away from jumping into 10th place in the ECU annals, while redshirt senior Britny Edwards is just eight blocks away from etching her name onto the East Carolina career blocks list, and senior Celeste Stewart needs 31 assists to crack into the Top 10 in ECU assists.

Off the Bench
The East Carolina women’s basketball team utilizes its bench as much as anyone, if not more. Last season, the Pirates’ bench out-scored their opponents in 19-of-31 games. ECU’s bench tallied 656 points to their opponents’ 429. This season, the Pirates’ bench has outscored its opponents’ bench 132-76. ECU’s non-starters tallied 52 of the team’s 84 points in the Pirates’ win over St. Andrew’s on Nov. 11, and East Carolina’s bench recorded 45 of 79 points against Converse last Sunday.

Getting Offensive
Whitny Edwards opened the season with a team-leading 16 points at William & Mary. Since then, she has not let up as the senior forward is leading the squad with 52 points to average 13.0 points per game. Additionally, Edwards is also the team’s leading rebounder with 25 as she averages 6.3 rebounds per game.

Cleaning up the Glass
Whitny Edwards and Britny Edwards have been doing their duty at the glass this season. The twins have totaled 48 rebounds as Whitny has collected 25 and Britny has added 23. The Edwards sisters are also leading the team in scoring with a total of 94 points, while Whitny is averaging 13.0 points per game and Britny is averaging 10.5.

Thanks for the Assistance
Senior Celeste Stewart picked up right where she left off last season - leading the team in assists. The 5-foot-8 guard has dished out a team-leading 16 assists in the Pirates’ first four games of the season to average 4.0 assists per game. With the 16 helpers on the year, Stewart is 31 away from cracking into the ECU career record book. Sophomore Kyani White is second on the team with 13 assists as the duo are the only two Pirates who have reached double figures in assists thus far.

Pirates Plunder, Pillage, and Steal
Kyani White has kicked off the season on a roll. The sophomore guard has collected 20 steals to average 5.0 steals per game. Last Sunday, White grabbed a game-high eight steals to tie for sixth place in the ECU single-game record book. She is currently leading the conference in steals per game.

Block Party
Redshirt senior Britny Edwards recorded a game-high five blocks in the Pirates’ season opener at William & Mary. Her five blocks tied her career-high from a year ago when she tallied five blocks versus Jacksonville on December 18, 2011. Last season, Britny Edwards finished the year with a team-leading 45 blocks. This season, Edwards has posted a team-leading 10 blocks to average 2.5 blocks per game. The 6-foot-1 power forward and center is just eight blocks away from breaking into the Top 10 in the ECU career record book.

Good Things Happen in Threes
East Carolina  has made 18 three-pointers this season to average 4.5 treys per game. The Pirates’ per game average is good for fourth in Conference USA statistics. This season, Whitny Edwards has drained seven threes and freshman Colleen Marshall has tallied four. Whitny Edwards ranks sixth in the conference in made three-point field goals as she averages 1.8 per game.

The “New” Conference USA
The 2012-13 season marks the final go round in Conference USA for Houston, Memphis, SMU, and UCF as all four schools are headed to the Big East beginning with the 2013-14 academic year. Replacing the quartet are Charlotte, Florida International, Louisiana Tech, North Texas, Old Dominion and UT-San Antonio.

ECU as a Team in C-USA
As a team the Pirates lead Conference USA in six categories. East Carolina has set the standard in scoring defense (49.5), scoring margin (+23.8), assists (18.0), steals (20.5), turnover margin (+13.2), and assists/turnover ratio (1.0). With a 20.5 steals per game average, the Pirates are averaging 6.7 more steals per game than anyone else in the league as UAB is in second with a 18.8 steals per game average. Additionally, the Pirates are averaging 2.7 more assists than their conference rivals as Memphis is averaging 15.3 assists per game which is good for second in Conference USA. East Carolina ranks in the top five in 15 of 21 categories in conference statistics.

ECU Players in C-USA
Individually, East Carolina has a number of players in the top 10 in conference statistics. Whitny Edwards leads the way as her name appears in four categories. The senior forward is sixth in made three-point field goals (1.8), eighth in steals (2.8), and 10th in both scoring (13.0) and field goal percentage (.524). Kyani White is the conference leader in steals with 5.0 per game and she is second in assist/turnover ratio (1.9). Britny Edwards is second in the league in blocked shots (2.5) and sits in ninth place in field goal percentage (.529). Senior Celeste Stewart’s 4.0 assists per game is good for a tie for third, while her 1.8 assists/turnover ratio is fourth (1.8). Sophomore Janesha Ebron has averaged 3.0 steals per game to rank sixth, while freshman Colleen Marshall is averaging 3.0 offensive rebounds per game which is good for ninth in the league.

Coming Up...
The Pirates will hit the road for the Navy Classic in Annapolis, Md., next weekend. At Navy, East Carolina will go head-to-head with the Midshipmen to start the tournament on Nov. 30, at 6 p.m. ECU will conclude the classic in a match-up with either Monmouth or High Point on Dec. 1, at 3:30 p.m. The meeting with Navy is the first ever between the two squads and ECU leads Monmouth 1-0 in the all-time series, while the Pirates hold a 9-4 advantage in the all-time series with the Panthers.