The East Carolina University women’s basketball team (5-3, 3-0 American Athletic Conference) will attempt to pick up where they left off in AAC play against the University of South Florida Bulls (6-1, 3-0 AAC) on Jan. 2 at 4 p.m. in the Yuengling Center in Tampa, Florida.
This will be the Pirates’ first game played since Dec. 22 where they picked up a 72-64 AAC win against the Tulane University Green Wave (4-3, 0-2). In that game, sophomore guard Taniyah Thompson led the team in points scored as she had 27 points to go along with six rebounds while she shot 11-19 from the field. As a team, the Pirates grabbed 44 rebounds and shot 10-15 from the free throw line.
Head coach Kim McNeill said she was happy for her team after its win against Tulane before the winter break. She said while she is hard on the team at times it is because she knows how well they can play.
“I can’t say enough about my team,” McNeill said. “I am so, so proud of them. I know how good we can be and I just don’t want us to settle.”
When the Pirates take on the Bulls, it will be a matchup between the two top teams in the AAC standings. ECU is on a four game win streak, while the Bulls have won five straight. In addition, both teams are 3-0 in AAC play.
As a team, USF has averaged 71.3 points per game up to this point in the season. In addition, the Bulls have two players who average double figures in points scored. Junior guard Sydni Harvey leads the Bulls in points per game at 11.6, while sophomore guard Elena Tsineke is second at 10 points per game. USF grabs 47.9 rebounds per game on average.
ECU as a team currently averages 60.1 points per game. In addition, the Pirates grab 33.6 rebounds per game on average. On the defensive side of the ball, ECU has forced 175 turnovers through seven games and they manage to get 12.5 steals per game as a team.
After the Tulane game, McNeill said she was pleased with how her entire team contributed in the win before winter break. She said she was happy with how her team moved the ball on offense.
“Once again, four players in double digits, which from the start is what we said we wanted,” McNeill said. “Just a complete team effort and I’m just so proud of this team.”
Senior guard and preseason all-AAC first team selection Lashonda Monk leads the Pirates in points scored per game at 15.3, while Thompson follows her at 12.4 points per game on average.
Up to this point in the season, the Pirates currently rank first in the AAC in steals per game and turnover margin, according to The American. In addition, ECU ranks sixth nationally in total steals. ECU is 6-10 all time against USF, and the Bulls have won each of the last eight meetings. In last season’s matchup, the Pirates lost by a score of 81-52 on Feb. 25 in Tampa, Florida last year.
The Pirates are set to take on USF on Jan. 2 in the Yuengling Center in Tampa, Florida. Tip-off is set for 4 p.m. and the game can be watched on ESPN+.