The East Carolina University women’s basketball team (5-1) will get another shot for its first road win of the year this Saturday, taking on the University of North Carolina at Charlotte after the College of William & Mary (3-2) put an end to their undefeated season.
The 49ers (4-1) have also only lost one game this season although their last two wins were points away from being losses. The Pirates took on the 49ers during the 2017-2018 season and won in a close contest 58-55. During the 2016-2017 season Charlotte took down the Pirates 79-64 although ECU had a higher free throw percentage it was not enough to carry the team.
The 49ers average free throw so far for the season is 0.6774 with their highest percentage being 0.778 in their last match up. Redshirt junior guard Jade Phillis has been a leader for the 49ers in every contest so far this season posting 27 points against Lehigh University and being offensive on the court.
In their first loss of the year, the Pirates (5-1) couldn’t get into any rhythm on the offensive end versus W&M, shooting 17-68 (25 percent) from the field, 2-16 (12.5 percent) from three point range and 7-16 (43.8 percent) from the free throw line. Sophomore and junior guards Lashonda Monk and Raven Johnson, the two leading scorers for the Pirates, combined for just 16 points on 7-36 (19.4 percent) shooting from the field. Johnson recorded the first double-double of her career with 10 points and a career high 14 rebounds.
The Pirates’ scoring success through the first five games was predicated on forcing turnovers and getting out into the open floor for transition points. Although they were able to force 26 turnovers against W&M, the Tribe made huge efforts to get back on defense after committing those turnovers to prevent them from scoring fastbreak buckets, playing a huge part in the Pirate’s poor shooting.
“They did a good job getting back and collapsing into the paint and taking our transition game away from us,” head coach Chad Killinger said. “We got to be better in terms of spacing on the break and our decision making at times and be stronger around the basket. There were plenty of times we got the ball inside and just missed shots.”
Despite the 5-0 start to the season, one of the shortcomings the Pirates have shown has been in the rebounding department, getting out rebounded in three out of the five games including -22 (50-28) on the boards against Monmouth University.
W&M exploited that weakness, doubling up the Pirates on the boards 58-to-29 and 47-to-19 on the defensive glass. Although the ECU took 19 more shot attempts and held the Tribe to 38.8 percent shooting from the field (19-49), the Tribe forced 51 missed shots by swarming inside the paint, being in great position to secure the rebounds.
On the bright side for the Pirates, senior point guard Alex Frazier came off the bench for the second straight game since returning from injury, scoring five points and grabbing three rebounds in 23 minutes of action. Senior forward Destiny Campbell also returned to the court after missing the last game due to a sprained ankle, playing 11 minutes off the bench and scoring two points in the process.
Although there are many players on ECU who have battled in road games before, the loss was the first time this current team played as the visitor. According to Killinger, the loss will serve as a learning experience for this team as a collective whole to understand what it takes to win on the road, hoping they will come out with that mindset this Saturday against the 49ers.
“When you go on the road you got to be mentally tough as well as physically tough,” Killinger said. “We obviously won five home games so we have to do a better job of being mentally prepared when we go on the road.”