East Carolina University’s women’s basketball team will hit the road tomorrow to take on the University of North Carolina at Wilmington at 7 p.m.
The Pirates saw themselves roaring back from a 10-point halftime deficit in their season opener against the University of South Carolina Upstate as they came away with a 66-53 win with intense defense and quick transition buckets from players like Raven Johnson and Thais Oliveira.
However, if the Pirates are planning on walking out of Seahawk territory with a win, they are going to have to play with a defensive intensity for the entire 40 minutes of the game instead of getting down early.
The Seahawks are also 1-0 to start the season after coming off a 73-64 victory against the University of North Carolina at Pembroke Sunday afternoon. Seahawk’s guard Madison Raque led all scorers with 24 points on 8-14 (57.1 percent) from the field and 5-10 (50 percent) from three point range. According to head coach Heather Macy, the intensity on the defensive end will have to pick up for the entire game, especially when guarding the perimeter.
“I was shocked with the lack of defensive intensity in the first half against USC Upstate because it’s the expectation for the entire game,” Macy said. “UNCW shoots the three ball very well so that’s going to be a key statline if we can keep them off the three point line.”
The Pirates are coming off a game which saw four Pirate players set career-highs in points. Guard Johnson (21), center Oliveira (14), guard Justice Gee (nine) and forward Dominique Claytor (nine).
Johnson played a major part in Friday’s win against the Spartans as nine of her 21 points came in the fourth quarter, including five straight points to give the Pirates breathing room when the Spartans cut the lead to one. Johnson’s 21 points came of an efficient 60 percent shooting from the field and an impressive 7-8 (87.5 percent) from the free throw line, while the rest of the Pirates went 9-19 (47.4 percent).
Johnson said she will have to maintain that aggressiveness for an entire game against the Seahawks to give her team a better chance of winning.
“We have to make sure we come out strong and sustain our energy the entire game and just come out like it’s the first quarter every time,” Johnson said. “We’re all a family, so if I feel that someone is struggling I’ll try to bring energy in any way to help lift my teammates up.”
Not only did Oliveira record a career high in points, she also grabbed a career high 13 rebounds and notched her first career double-double. Oliveira was also a huge impact on the defensive end with four steals and two blocks.
Oliveira said she feels 100 percent healthy compared to last year when she was dealing with a nagging foot injury all season. Heading into tomorrow’s game and the rest of the season, she is confident she can make the same impact on the court as she did in their season opener.
“Right now I at least try to be consistent and get better with my performance,” Oliveira said. “Last game definitely helps building confidence as I progress during the season.”