The East Carolina University women’s basketball team (5-3, 3-0 American Athletic Conference) had its first home conference game of the season against Tulane University (4-3, 0-2 AAC) on Dec. 22, and came away with a 72-64 victory.
The Pirates went into the game after dealing with changes to their schedule, as the team’s game against the University of Cincinnati (1-4, 0-1 AAC), originally scheduled for Dec. 19, was pushed back by a day due to COVID-19 protocols. Head coach Kim McNeill said while the team didn’t get as much time to prepare as usual, she is proud of the way the players handled the situation.
“The last, what, 72 hours has been really hard mentally for us,” McNeill said. “For us to be able to go up to Cincinnati, get the win on the road, come back here and have less than 24 hours of prep for a really good team that runs a lot of stuff offensively, and to come out with a win right before Christmas break, my heart is filled right now.”
McNeill said the Pirates put together a complete team effort, with several players who scored in the double-digits and multiple players getting involved off the bench. As a team, ECU shot 44.6% from the field, 20% from three and 66.7% on free throws, compared to Tulane’s numbers of 37.7%, 17.6% and 57.7% on the day.
Sophomore guard Taniyah Thompson led ECU in points scored with 27, and shot 11-19 from the field, two for six from three and three for four from the free throw line. She racked up six rebounds and two assists in the contest. Thompson said despite the challenge Tulane put forward, being 3-0 in conference play is a good feeling.
“It feels good to put everything together and finally be rewarded for it,” Thompson said. “Of course, we can’t slack off, we still have to go hard in practices. But it does definitely feel good to start getting some wins.”
Three other Pirates joined Thompson in double-digit points territory, which includes senior guard Lashonda Monk, who ended with a stat line of 12 points scored, six defensive rebounds, three assists and one steal. Other players to reach the double-digit mark were graduate student guard Sierra DaCosta with 18 points and junior forward Maddie Moore with 10 points.
Tulane was led in the game by senior guard Arsula Clark, who finished with a stat line of 28 points scored, seven rebounds, two assists and six steals. Freshman point guard Jerkaila Jordan scored in the double-digits for the Green Wave with 16 points, and added six rebounds, five assists and one steal to her stat line.
Monk’s 12 points scored against Tulane seems like a letdown after her 32-point performance in the previous game versus Cincinnati. However, she said she is glad that other players on the team are getting involved on the scoreboard.
“We didn’t really have that last year, it was pretty much just me and her (Thompson),” Monk said. “But now it’s like, some games I can just be the point guard, distribute passes and stuff like that. Like coach (McNeill) said, all of us can eat.”
The Pirates will have a short break before their next game against the University of South Florida (5-1, 2-0 AAC) on Jan. 2, with a tip-off time set for 4 p.m. The game will be available to stream on ESPN+.