The East Carolina University women’s basketball team (3-3,1-0 American Athletic Conference) had a 74-67 AAC win on Dec. 20 against the University of Cincinnati Bearcats (1-3, 0-0 AAC) in what was the first home AAC matchup for the Pirates.
The game was originally scheduled for Dec. 19 at 1 p.m., but due to COVID-19 protocol, it was deemed best by the AAC that the game be rescheduled to Dec. 20.
The Pirates came into this matchup after they got their first AAC win on the road against the Southern Methodist University Mustangs (0-5, 0-1 AAC) on Dec. 16 by a score of 50-46. In that game, junior forward Tiara Chambers led the Pirates in points scored with 14 and she also added nine rebounds.
Head coach Kim McNeill said that her team handled the adversity of the last 48 hours very well. She said that she was proud of the win due to the success of Cincinnati.
“Great win against a really good team,” McNeill said. “We’re going in the right direction. Toughness, learning how to deal with adversity, and being able to come in here and get a road win.”
The Pirates started off the game strong as they led by a score of 24-17 at the end of the first quarter. Senior guard Lashonda Monk led ECU in points scored at the end of the first quarter with 10 points and she also added three rebounds. In addition, the Pirates shot 100% from the three point line as they went 3-3.
Cincinnati cut into the Pirates’ lead at the start of the second quarter, as they went on a six to three run, which made the score 27-23 with 3:19 left until halftime. The Bearcats continued to make a run and outscored ECU 15-9 in the entirety of the second quarter, but the Pirates would keep their lead as the teams went into halftime by a score of 33-32. Senior forward IImar’I Thomas led Cincinnati with eight points and the team shot 83.3% from the free throw line.
McNeill said that she was pleased with how her team handled adversity today. She said that she was proud of how her team bounced back despite some mistakes.
“For us to be able to regroup, get back on track and go full steam ahead just shows the growth in our team,” McNeill said.
At the end of the third quarter, the Pirates were able to hold on to their lead and outscored Cincinnati 20-17 before the fourth quarter, which gave them a 53-49 advantage as the quarter came to a close. Monk continued to lead the Pirates as she had 19 points to go along with five rebounds before the third quarter ended. Junior forward Maddie Moore also contributed to ECU’s team totals, as she had 10 points before the third quarter ended.
The Pirates continued to stretch their lead in the fourth as they outscored Cincinnati by a score of 21-18, which gave them their second straight AAC win of the season by a score of 74-67. Monk had a team high of 32 points to go along with six rebounds, five assists and four steals. Monk also shot 60% from three and went 9-10 from the free throw line.
McNeill said that Monk had a great game and that she showed how good of a player she is. She said everyone on the team did their part to contribute in the win.
“Monk scores 32 points, she played like a first team all-conference player today,” McNeill said. “Four people in double figures, a complete team effort.”
As a team, the Pirates forced 24 turnovers against the Bearcats, 11 of which were steals. ECU was also able to shoot 41.7% from three on the day, and grabbed a team total of 32 rebounds, which was tied with Cincinnati’s rebound total. The Pirates shot 81.8% from the free throw line and had three double-digit scorers in addition to Monk. Moore, graduate guard Sierra Decosta, and sophomore guard Taniyah Thompson all had 10 points each for ECU.
The Pirates will now have their first AAC home game on Dec. 22 against the Tulane University Green Wave (4-2, 0-1 AAC). The game will tip-off at noon and can be seen on ESPN+.