ECU to battle No. 17 North Carolina in Beach Ball Classic

UABSPORTS.COM Colleen Marshall
Colleen Marshall

Dec. 18, 2012

Game 11: East Carolina vs. No. 17 North Carolina
Date Wednesday, Nov. 19
Time 7 p.m. (ET)
Location Myrtle Beach, S.C.
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. – The East Carolina women’s basketball team will go head to head with nationally ranked North Carolina at the Beach Ball Classic on Wednesday, Dec. 19, at 7 p.m. The game will take place at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center.

The Game: ECU vs. No. 17 North Carolina
East Carolina will face No. 17 North Carolina at the Beach Ball Classic in Myrtle Beach, S.C., on Wednesday, Dec. 19. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center.

The Series
The Pirates and Tar Heels will face off for the 29th time in program history and North Carolina leads the all-time series 17-11. Last season the Tar Heels edged ECU, 65-61, on December 20, 2011, at the Beach Ball Classic. Last year’s meeting was the first since 1999 and the Pirates have not defeated UNC since March 3, 1982 when ECU held off North Carolina 92-72 at Minges Coliseum.

Last Time Out
After a 12-day break due to exams, East Carolina picked up right where it left off. The Pirates handed VCU its first home loss as ECU took a 67-56 victory over the Rams on Sunday afternoon. Four Pirates scored in double figures and the East Carolina defense forced VCU into 32 turnovers while collecting 18 steals in the contest. Senior Celeste Stewart led all scorers with 15 points, six assists, four steals, three rebounds, and a block. Whitny Edwards narrowly missed a double-double as she grabbed nine rebounds, three assists, and one block to accompany her 12 points. Kyani White was consistent on the floor as she added 11 points, two assists, a pair of steals, and a rebound while shooting 80-percent from the field. Tatiana Chapple was just one steal away from tying her career high as she notched four steals, 10 points, three assists, a trio of boards and a block. Ariana Jackson came off the bench and tallied eight points, four rebounds, one assist and a block, while Janesha Ebron finished the game with five points, three steals, one block and an assist.

About the Pirates
East Carolina owns a 8-2 record and is on a three-game winning streak after having won six of its last seven games. This season, the Pirates are outscoring their opponents by more than 150 points (665-488) and are averaging 66.5 points per game while holding their opponents to just 48.8, a league low. Additionally, ECU is averaging 15.1 steals per game and forcing its opponents into 26.0 turnovers per game. Britny Edwards leads the team in scoring (11.7 points per game), rebounding (7.6 rebounds per game) and blocks (18). The redshirt senior center / power forward has tallied 10 assists and 11 steals on the year while shooting 55.1-percent. Whitny Edwards is averaging 10.5 points per game and 7.0 rebounds per game. The redshirt senior forward has also contributed 21 assists and 17 steals. Senior Celeste Stewart has been consistent for the Pirates all season as she leads the squad with 45 assists and has added 89 points (8.9 points per game), 30 rebounds (3.0 rebounds per game), 21 steals and a trio of blocks. Kyani White is the team leader in steals with 28. The redshirt sophomore has also totaled 50 points, 25 boards, 32 assists, with one block this season.

Scouting The Tar Heels
No. 17 North Carolina owns a 10-1 record and is currently riding a three game winning steak after having suffered its only loss at the hands of No. 16 Tennessee in Knoxville, Tenn., on December 2. The Lady Vols routed the then-No. 22 Tar Heels, 102-57. Since then, the Heels have defeated Radford (64-44), NC Central (49-21), and Coastal Carolina (75-49). UNC is led offensively by a trio of Heels who are averaging double figures in Tierra Ruffin-Pratt (13.1 points per game) and Waltiea Rolle (12.9 points per game), and Xylina McDaniel (12.8 points per game). Ruffin-Pratt has accumulated 32 rebounds, 36 assists, and 27 steals, while Rolle has added 75 boards, a team-best 30 blocks, and 10 steals, and McDaniel has amassed 87 rebounds, 24 steals, 15 assists, and 10 blocks. Krista Gross is the squad’s leading rebounder with 117 to average 10.6 boards per game, while totaling 73 points (6.6 points per game), 30 steals, 19 assists and 12 blocks. As a team, UNC is averaging 69.1 points per game while limiting its opponents to 54.2. The Tar Heels are also outrebounding their opponents by a 7.8 rebounding margin.

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 36-36 as the Pirates leader. Overall, Macy owns a 151-75 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.

North Carolina: Sylvia Hatchell (Carson-Newman, 1974) is in her 27th season at the helm of the North Carolina women’s basketball team and has over 1,000 career games and 37 seasons of coaching under her belt. Hatchell was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2004 and she is just one of six head coaches in Division I history to reach the 800-win plateau. She is the second winningest active coach in the nation and has been named national coach of the year three times while leading her teams to at least 20 wins 28 times to rank fourth in that category nationally. Hatchell is the only coach to lead teams to national championships at the AIAW, NAIA, and NCAA levels. She arrived in Chapel Hill in 1986 from Francis Marion and owns a 616-235 overall record.

The Coaching Connection
Heather Macy and Sylvia Hatchell have a common link in that they both were head coaches of the Francis Marion women’s basketball team. Hatchell led the Patriots from 1979-1986 and finished her career at Francis Marion with a 272-80 record to go along with an AIAW II National Championship and an NAIA National Title. Twenty-one years after Hatchell left Francis Marion, Heather Macy took the reigns and led the Patriots to three consecutive NCAA Division II appearances and a trip to the Sweet 16 in her final year at the helm. Macy finished her stint at Francis Marion with a 75-19 record and helped the Patriots to their first national ranking since the 2000-01 season.

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 two 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 248-155. 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 117 points in the Pirates’ first 10 games of the season to average a team-high 11.7 points per game. 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 105 points on the season to average 10.5 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 146 rebounds as Britny has collected 76 and Whitny has added 70. Britny is averaging 7.6 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 28 steals to average 2.8 steals per game in 10 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 45 assists in the Pirates’ first 10 games of the season to average 4.5 assists per game which is good for fourth in C-USA statistics. With the 45 helpers on the year, Stewart is just two away from cracking into the ECU career record book. Sophomore Kyani White is second on the team with 32 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 1.8 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.

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...
After the winter break, the Pirates will return to Minges Colisuem to play host to Elon in a non-confernce contest on Saturday, Dec. 29, at 3 p.m. East Carolina and Elon will meet for the 10th time in program history and ECU leads the all-time series 7-2. Last season, ECU defeated Elon, 60-46, at the ECU Pirate Thanksgiving Tournament. Elon has not been victorious over the Pirates since Feb. 6, 1975, when the Phoenix beat the Pirates, 71-64, in Greenville, N.C.