Women's Basketball at UNCW

The East Carolina women’s basketball team continued its hot start to the season, as the Pirates defeated UNC-Wilmington, 75-65 early Wednesday afternoon for their third straight victory yesterday morning.

Kristen Gaffney, one of four Pirates who scored in double-figures, once again led ECU (3-0) in scoring with 17 points on 7-for-12 shooting and grabbed eight rebounds.

Khadidja Toure finished her second game of the season with 16 points and four assists, as Antoinette Bannister chipped in with 12 points and four assists as well. Bre McDonald, the fourth Pirate in double-figures on Education Day, dropped in 11 points and corralled eight rebounds.

Education Day brings in students from Pitt County Schools to watch the game, which is the reason the game was at 11:30 a.m.

“The atmosphere was incredible,” said ECU Head Coach Heather Macy. “Thank you so much to Pitt County Schools and our marketing department for putting this on because there’s a ton of work that goes into getting these kids all out of school, bussed over here and organized.”

Jasmine Steele finished as the Seahawks’ top scorer with 14 points, as Jordan Henry added 11 points and DeGraaf Jenny finished with a game-high 11 boards.

For the second straight game, ECU went down early as the Seahawks stormed ahead for an early 10-3 lead. The Pirates answered with a run of their own, and evened the game up at 12 with a fastbreak layup from Toure with 2:39 remaining in the opening period. ECU finished the quarter and went into the second with a 17-15 lead.

Toure, who scored eight points in the first quarter, stayed in a groove and scored the Pirate’s first five points of the second, to push the lead to 22-17. The lead grew as large as nine points, just past the halfway point of the second period, but UNCW went on a 6-0 run to reduce ECU’s lead to three with 2:33 remaining in the first half. The Pirates bounced back and increased the lead back to six, and went into the halftime break with a 30-24 lead.

“What I stressed to the girls at halftime was bringing honor to the way they play the game because there’s a lot of kiddos in these stands who dream to be in their shoes, but also dream of going to school at East Carolina,” said Macy. “Our kids did a great job being representatives of the university.”

Sparked by back-to-back 3s by Bannister and McDonald, the Pirates opened the third period with an 8-2 run, forcing UNCW to call a timeout with 8:16 to go in the third period. Bannister finished the game with two 3s, putting her on pace to make 130 3-pointers this season and shatter Jada Payne’s single-season record of 80 — set two seasons ago.

ECU saw its lead surge to 53-39 with 2:05 to go in the third quarter, after making nine of its first 10 shots, including three-of-four from behind the arc. UNCW answered with three baskets of its own, but the Pirates kept a 55-45 lead going into the fourth period.

The Pirates built a 15 point lead, 65-50, in the fourth, but saw UNCW claw back within seven points, after the Pirates went over three minutes without scoring.

After calling a timeout with 2:34 remaining, Gaffney scored a layup to break the scoring drought. ECU closed out the final moments of the fourth quarter and held on for a 10-point win thanks to a pair of Gaffney layups and four straight free throws from Bannister.

ECU’s next game is Sunday at 3:30 p.m. at Williams Arena as they host Auburn, after the end of the men’s basketball game.

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