The East Carolina University women’s basketball team (5-8, 3-5 American Athletic Conference) will have an AAC matchup on Jan. 23 at 1 p.m. against the No. 16 ranked University of South Florida Bulls (10-1, 7-0 AAC) at Williams Arena in Greenville, North Carolina.
In the Pirates’ most recent matchup they suffered a 68-54 loss against the University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane (4-5, 3-5 AAC) on Jan. 20. In that game, senior guard and preseason all-AAC first team selection Lashonda Monk led ECU in points with 21 scored to go along with 11 rebounds in the contest.
After a loss against the University of Houston Cougars (8-4, 5-3 AAC) on Jan. 16, head coach Kim McNeill said her team has to do better when it comes to runs in the game.
“You can’t dig yourself a hole,” McNeill said. “You can’t get down by 16 or 17 points. You have to come out in the first half and match their aggressiveness.”
USF is currently on a nine game win streak, and they sit atop the AAC ranks. One of those AAC wins came recently in a game against the Tulane University Green Wave (8-4, 4-3 AAC), where they won by a score of 72-53. As a team, the Bulls made 10 total threes and added 43 rebounds to their team statline in that game.
In the matchup history between the Bulls and the Pirates, USF holds a 10-3 advantage. The Bulls have also had the upper hand in the last 10 games against ECU, as they are 9-1. The two teams had a contest earlier this season in which USF was able to pick up a 71-58 home win against ECU on Jan. 2 at the Yuengling Center in Tampa, Florida. Senior forward Bethy Mununga led USF in points scored as she had 23 total in the matchup.
McNeill said she knows her team has the capability to get back on track. She said when they were on a four game win streak earlier in the season, the players clicked really well as a team.
“Right now it seems like we’re having possessions where there’s three people on the same page and there’s two people that aren’t,” McNeill said. “We gotta figure out how to get back to really playing together and really playing selfless basketball.”
As a team up to this point in the season, the Pirates have averaged 58.6 points per game to go along with 127 total assists through 13 games, according to The American. In addition, ECU has managed to clean up on the boards and bring in 33.2 rebounds per game. On the defensive side of the ball, the Pirates force an average of 20.5 turnovers per game, 11.4 of which are steals.
USF has four players who average double figures in points scored per game. Sophomore guard Elena Tsineke leads the way for the Bulls with 12.0 points per contest, followed by junior point guard Sydni Harvey who averages 10.5 per game, according to Go USF Bulls. Sophomore Maria Alvarez and Mununga both score 10.2 points per contest on average.
McNeill said after the Houston loss, she was pleased with how Junior forward Maddie Moore played. She said she hopes Moore’s performance will help build her own confidence and the team’s confidence as they move forward.
“We have to recognize that,” McNeill said. “When people get rolling, that’s when you have to become selfless and say okay, whoever’s got the hot hand let’s find a way to feed it to them.”
USF has been able to score 71.6 points per game while they hold their opponents to only 53.0 on average. The Bulls shoot 39.6% from the field as a team, and they have made a total of 91 threes on the season. In addition, USF has a positive margin in the category of rebounds, with 11.5 more rebounds than their opponents per game. The Bulls also limit their turnovers, as they only cough up the ball 13.3 times per game on average.
ECU sits at seventh in the AAC ranks, and they have been able to rely on a number of different players for points this season. The Pirates have three players who average in double digits in points scored per game. Senior guard Lashonda Monk leads ECU in points scored with an average of 14.8 points per contest. Sophomore guard Taniyah Thompson and DaCosta follow her at 11.9 and 11.4 points per game respectively.
After the Pirates take on USF, they will have a rematch with the University of Central Florida Knights (7-2, 5-1 AAC) on Jan. 27. The game is set to tip-off at 5 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN+.