The East Carolina University women’s basketball team overcame a double-digit deficit to force overtime, but fell in the end 61-58 to the University of Central Florida last night in Minges Coliseum.
The Pirates (10-8, 1-4 AAC) have now lost three straight games, and have yet to win an away game this season, while the Knights (17-2, 6-0 AAC) now have a 9-1 record on the road and are currently on a seven game winning streak.
The game was a low scoring, bad shooting, tough and a defensive one for both teams during the first half, as both were pressing throughout the first 20 minutes. As a result both teams combined to shoot 31 percent from the field.
ECU shot 7-for-27 and struggled with rebounding, getting outrebounded by five, including 10 offensive rebounds for UCF which led to 11 second-chance points. The Pirates did not take care of the ball as well, suffering seven turnovers, leading to 11 points.
The team was rough and aggressive on defense, and Minges Coliseum could feel the intensity, as players dove for the ball, got on the floor and were running back and forth on defense. The Knights led at the end of the first half however 25-20.
“I was telling the girls, no matter what the score is you know we’re gonna keep competing and we’re gonna find a way to get back into the game, and that’s what they did tonight, so proud of them for that,” acting head coach Nicole Mealing said.
UCF struggled as well when making shots, shooting 35.3 percent from the field, but made up for that with its points in the paint and offensive rebounding. This was impressive due to the fact that junior guard Kay Kay Wright, the leading scorer in the American Athletic Conference (19.3), went down with an injury in the last minute of the first quarter and proceeded to miss the entire second quarter.
During the start of the second half, UCF went on a 6-0 run to increase the lead to 31-20, all of which were scored or assisted by Wright, who came back and played two minutes and 28 seconds during the third quarter. It would be her last time seeing the court until the last minute of the fourth, as she played a total of 19 minutes, ending the night with eight points, four rebounds and four assists.
The Pirates then went down by a game-high 15 points, which led Mealing to put the bench on the court, who went scoreless but defended well, until some of the starters came back during the end of the third to make a strong push.
During the last quarter of the game, the team would decrease the deficit to single digits at times, but would then go back to losing by double digits. The back and forth scoring by both teams continued until the two minute mark, in which ECU got the game to a score of 49-50.
With 19 seconds left in the game, the Pirates were down by three points and junior guard Justice Gee banked in a three pointer from the left side of the court to tie the game up with 10 seconds left, which led the game to go into overtime.
“We do work on plays like that every time in practice but it didn’t go exactly like I drew it up but, I mean, Justice came through again for us and sent it into overtime,” Mealing said.
In the overtime period the Knights scored the first basket and never trailed, scoring five points, while the Pirates ended with two. The team had its last chance to tie the game up with four seconds left, but missed a three pointer in the final possession.
ECU was led by sophomore guard Lashonda Monk who scored a career high 27 points, three rebounds, three assists and eight steals.
“I just felt that when they had their run, so they had a run, so I already knew that our run was coming, so we just didn’t give up,” Monk said. “It shows us how hard we fight, you know, we got down but we pushed through it. It shows that we can come back against a really good team.”
The Pirates will look to break their three game losing streak against Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on Saturday at 2 p.m.