Lady Pirates Prepare for Sunday Matinee Contest at VCU

UABSPORTS.COM Celeste Stewart
Celeste Stewart

Dec. 14, 2012

Game 10: East Carolina at VCU
Date Sunday, Dec. 16
Time 1 p.m. (ET)
Location Richmond, Va. | Verizon Wireless Arena

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The East Carolina women’s basketball team heads to Richmond, Va., to battle it out with VCU in a Sunday afternoon non-conference match-up. The Pirates and Rams are set to tip-off at 1 p.m., on December 16 at the Verizon Wireless Arena.

The Game: ECU at VCU
East Carolina travels to Richmond, Va., to battle it out with VCU in a Sunday afternoon non-conference match-up. The Pirates and Rams are set to tip-off at 1 p.m. on December 16 at the Verizon Wireless Arena. The contest marks the Pirates’ last road game of 2012, as ECU will take on North Carolina in a neutral site affair in Myrtle Beach, S.C., on December 19, before closing out the year against Elon at Minges Coliseum on December 29.

The Series
The Pirates and Rams will face off for the 25th time in program history and East Carolina holds a slight edge on VCU as the Pirates lead the all-time series 13-11. Last season the Rams defeated ECU, 62-49, on December 7, 2011, at the ECU Pirate Thanksgiving Tournament at Minges Coliseum. The last time the Pirates were victorious over the Rams was on December 2, 2010, when ECU edged VCU, 77-72, in Richmond, Va.  

Last Time Out
East Carolina has been on hiatus since Tuesday, Dec. 4, due to exams. The Pirates’ last game was a midweek non-conference contest against NC Central at Minges Coliseum and ECU defeated the Eagles, 65-28. Britny Edwards finished the night with 12 points, eight rebounds, two assists, one steal, and a block. The block marked the 63rd of her career and she is now tied for 10th place in the ECU career record book with former Pirate Alma Bethea. Celeste Stewart also chipped in 12 points for her second double-figure scoring game of the year to go along with five rebounds, three assists and a trio of steals. Ariana Jackson set a new career-high for herself as she collected a game-high six steals to go along with two blocks, a half-dozen points, and as many rebounds. Dana Jones came off the bench and turned in a seven-point performance, while Colleen Marshall notched a pair of three-pointers for six points and three boards.

About the Pirates
East Carolina owns a 7-2 record and has won five of its last six games. This season, the Pirates are outscoring their opponents by more than 150 points (598-432) and are averaging 66.4 points per game while holding their opponents to just 48.0. Additionally, ECU is averaging 14.8 steals per game and forcing its opponents into 25.3 turnovers per game. Britny Edwards leads the team in scoring (12.4 points per game), rebounding (8.0 rebounds per game) and blocks (18). The redshirt senior center / power forward has tallied nine assists and eight steals on the year while shooting a team-best 57.8-percent. Whitny Edwards is averaging 10.3 points per game and 6.8 rebounds per game. The redshirt senior forward has also contributed 18 assists and 17 steals. Senior Celeste Stewart has been consistent for the Pirates all season as she leads the squad with 39 assists and has added 74 points (8.2 points per game), 27 rebounds (3.0 rebounds per game), 17 steals and a pair of blocks. Kyani White is the team leader in steals with 26. The redshirt sophomore has also totaled 39 points, 24 boards, 30 assists, with one block this season.

Scouting The Rams
VCU owns a 5-4 record as the Rams host East Carolina for a Sunday afternoon contest. The Rams are 2-0 at the Verizon Wireless Arena this season. Junior Robyn Parks is the leading scorer for VCU as she has amassed 166 points to average 18.4 points per game. Additionally, Parks has collected a team-leading 78 rebounds to average 8.7 boards per game. She is also the team leader in steals with 23. Freshman guard Jessica Pellechio is averaging 14.6 points per game, 3.3 rebounds per game, 20 steals, 19 assists and three blocks for the Rams. Shekinah Henry has started in seven of the Rams’ nine games this season and is averaging 7.4 points per game and 8.6 rebounds per game, while shooting a team-best 57.4-percent. The Rams have won five of their last six games and are outshooting their opponents 40.5-percent to 36.5-percent. As a team, VCU is averaging 42.3 rebounds per game and has collected 101 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 35-36 as the Pirates leader. Overall, Macy owns a 150-75 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.

VCU: Marlene Stollings (Ohio, 1998) was introduced as the 13th head coach in VCU women’s basketball history in July of 2012 after being named the Big South Conference Coach of the Year at Winthrop University a year earlier. Stollings served as the head coach at Winthrop for one season in which she guided her squad to more than 40 team and individual school records including the program’s second winning season (18-13) in 26 years. Prior to joining the Eagles, Stollings served as an assistant coach at Southeastern Conference powerhouse Ole Miss from 2007-10, before being promoted to head coach for the 2010-11 season. Her more than decade-long coaching and recruiting career includes stops in the Atlantic 10, Sun Belt and Horizon League.

The National Spotlight
As a team, East Carolina ranks in the Top 25 in four categories in NCAA Division I statistics. The Pirates are fifth in steals per game (14.8), ninth in turnover margin (8.2), ninth in scoring defense (48.0) and 16th in assists per game (17.3). Individually, redshirt sophomore Kyani White ranks seventh in assist to turnover ratio as she is averaging 3.0, while redshirt senior Britny Edwards comes in 23rd in field goal percentage (57.8).

Cracking the Top 10
Britny Edwards etched her name into the ECU record book in the Pirates’ game against NC Central on Dec. 4. The redshirt senior recorded just one block, but it was enough to give her 63 for her career which ranks 10th in the East Carolina annals. In just two years in a Pirate uniform, Edwards has tied Alma Bethea (1984-88) for 10th place.

Closing in on the Top 10
In addition to Britny Edwards, two more Pirates are closing in on the ECU Top 10 career record book. Senior Celeste Stewart needs just eight assists to crack into the Top 10 in ECU assists, while senior Shala Hodges is 13 three-pointers away from jumping into 10th place in the ECU annals.

All-Tourney All The Time
The Pirates have played in a pair of tournaments this year and Britny Edwards has collected All-Tournament Team honors in each. During the Thanksgiving weekend, Britny Edwards averaged a double-double with 13.0 points per game and 10.0 rebounds per game en route to being named the ECU Pirate Thanksgiving Tournament MVP. She shot 63.2-percent and recorded five blocks with two assists and one steal in the tournament. At the Navy Classic, she delivered once again as she recorded a pair of double-doubles and finished the weekend with a total of 32 points (16.0 points per game), 21 rebounds (10.5 rebounds per game), five steals, two blocks and a pair of assists as she was named to the Navy Classic All-Tournament Team.

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 outscored their opponents in 19-of-31 games and ECU’s bench tallied 656 points to their opponents’ 429. This season, the Pirates’ bench has outscored its opponents’ bench 234-138. 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 on Nov. 18.

Getting Offensive
Britny Edwards has tallied 112 points in the Pirates’ first nine games of the season to average a team-high 12.4 points per game. In ECU’s last game, Britny Edwards led the team with 12 points and eight rebounds against NC Central. She has led the team in both scoring and rebounding on five occasions. Not far behind Britny Edwards is her twin sister Whitny Edwards who has recorded 93 points on the season to average 10.3 points per game. The duo are the only two Pirates to average double-figures in scoring this season.

Cleaning up the Glass
Whitny Edwards and Britny Edwards have been doing their duty at the glass this season. The twins have totaled 133 rebounds as Britny has collected 72 and Whitny has added 61. Britny is averaging 8.0 rebounds per game which ranks fifth in the conference. Additionally, she is ranked seventh in both offensive (3.1) and defensive rebounds (4.9).

Pirates Plunder, Pillage, and Steal
Sophomore guard Kyani White has collected 26 steals to average 2.9 steals per game in nine contests thus far. Against Converse, White grabbed a game-high eight steals to tie for sixth place in the ECU single-game record book. She is seventh in Conference USA in steals per contest.

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 39 assists in the Pirates’ first nine games of the season to average 4.3 assists per game which is good for fourth in C-USA statistics. With the 39 helpers on the year, Stewart is just eight away from cracking into the ECU career record book. Sophomore Kyani White is second on the team with 30 assists.

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 stops 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 18 blocks to average 2.0 blocks per game which leads Conference USA. In the Pirates’ win over NC Central, Edwards tallied her 63rd career block to break into the ECU all-time record book.

Good Things Happen in Threes
East Carolina  has made 41 three-pointers this season to average 4.6 treys per game. This season, Whitny Edwards has drained 13 threes while Colleen Marshall has sunk nine treys.

ECU as a Team in C-USA
As a team the Pirates lead Conference USA in 11 categories. East Carolina has set the standard in scoring defense (48.0), scoring margin (+18.4), field goal percent defense (.330), rebounding offense (44.6), blocked shots (4.4), assists (17.3), steals (14.8), turnover margin (+8.2), assists to turnover ratio (1.0), offensive rebounds (18.9), and offensive rebound percentage (.421). The Pirates rank in the top five in 14 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. Britny Edwards leads the way as her name appears in five categories. The redshirt senior center / power forward is tied for first in blocked shots (2.0), fourth in field goal percentage (.578), fifth in rebounding average (8.0), and seventh in both offensive (3.1) and defensive rebounds (4.9). Kyani White leads the conference in assists to turnover ratio (3.0) and is seventh in steals with 2.9 per game. Senior point guard Celeste Stewart ranks fourth in assists as she averages 4.3 per contest, while her assists to turnover ratio of 1.7 is good for fifth.

Coming Up...
The Pirates will take on No. 19 North Carolina in a non-conference neutral site contest at the Beach Ball Classic in Myrtle Beach, S.C., on Wednesday, December 19, at 7 p.m. ECU and UNC will meet for the 29th time in program history and the Tar Heels lead the all-time series 17-11. Last season, UNC edged ECU, 65-61, at the Beach Ball Classic. North Carolina has been victorious over East Carolina in the last five meetings as the Pirates have not defeated the Tar Heels since March 3, 1982, when ECU took the contest by a score of 92-72.