Synia Johnson

Freshman guard Synia Johnson dribbles the ball in ECU's loss to the USF Bulls.

The East Carolina University women’s basketball team (5-4, 3-1 American Athletic Conference) looks to get back on track in AAC play this week against the Temple University Owls on Jan. 6  (2-3, 2-0 AAC) at 6 p.m. and the Wichita State University Shockers on Jan. 9 (3-4, 0-2 AAC) at 4 p.m.

The Pirates recently suffered their first AAC loss of the 2020-2021 season by a score of 71-58 at the hands of the University of South Florida Bulls (7-1, 4-0 AAC) on Jan. 2. In that game, senior guard Lashonda Monk and graduate guard Sierra DaCosta led ECU in points scored with 13 each. Before the game, ECU and USF both held the top spots in the AAC standings. After the tough loss, the Pirates now sit at fifth place in AAC rankings. 

Up first for ECU is a matchup with Temple whose team has not played a game since Dec. 23, 2020. In their last game, the Owls were able to pick up a 69-52 win against the Tulsa University Golden Hurricane (1-3, 0-3 AAC). Temple was scheduled to play against Tulane University (5-3, 1-2 AAC) on Dec. 30, 2020, but the game was postponed due to COVID-19 related issues. 

As a team Temple averages 64.8 points per game and has allowed its opponents to average 76.0 points per contest, which gives the team a negative scoring margin of 11.2, according to Owl Sports. The Owls have shot 39.9% from the field, and as a team it grabs 42.0 rebounds per game on average. Senior forward Mia Davis averages a double-double for Temple, as she scores 22.4 points a game to go along with 10.4 rebounds per contest.

In the matchup history between the Pirates and Owls, Temple currently holds a 7-2 advantage. The last game between the two teams ended with a win for the Owls by a score of 67-57 on Mar. 6, 2020, in the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 

After the Pirates’ matchup with Temple, they will face off against the Wichita State Shockers. The Shockers just suffered a 65-59 loss at the hands of the University of Cincinnati Bearcats (2-5, 1-2 AAC) on Jan. 2. Up to this point in the season, Wichita State has had three games postponed due to COVID-19 related issues, and all three games were AAC matchups. 

The Shockers have four players who average double figures in points, and they are led by junior forward Asia Strong, who averages 15.0 points per game to go along with six rebounds per game. As a team, Wichita State averages 67.9 points per game and they shoot 43.0% from the field per contest, according to the Go Shockers website. On the defensive side, the Shockers average 16.1 points per game off of turnovers, and they protect the glass as they block 3.1 shots a game. 

ECU and Wichita State have only played a total of five times since they met for the first time in 2018. The Shockers currently hold a 3-2 advantage in the series and have won three straight matchups. When ECU and Wichita State met last season, the Shockers were able to squeeze out a two point victory over the Pirates by a score of 57-55 on Feb. 1, 2020, in the Charles Koch Arena in Wichita, Kansas.

The Pirates have forced 175 turnovers as a team up to this point in the season. In addition, ECU forces 12.5 steals per game. On offense, the Pirates score 60.1 points per game while they shoot 36.6% from the field as a team. ECU shares the ball as a team with 9.8 assists per contest, and they grab 33.6 rebounds a game. 

Monk, who was a preseason all-AAC first team selection, currently leads the Pirates in average points scored at 15.3 per game. Sophomore guard Taniyah Thompson follows Monk in points scored as she averages 12.4 points per contest, and she shoots 34.5% from the field on average. ECU has two more players who average double figures in points scored in DaCosta and junior forward Maddie Moore, as they average 11.8 and 10.0 points per game respectively.

ECU’s first game of the week will be against Temple on Jan. 6 at 6 p.m in Williams Arena in Greenville, North Carolina. After Temple, the Pirates will travel to Wichita State for a matchup in the Charles Koch Arena on Jan. 9 at 4 p.m. Both games can be seen on ESPN+. 

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