The East Carolina University women’s basketball team beat Memphis University 68-59 Saturday afternoon in Minges Coliseum to add another win to its conference record.
The Pirates (12-11, 3-7 AAC), who are second to last in the American Athletic Conference standings, are coming off a 63 point loss at No. 5 University of Connecticut on Wednesday, were trying to gain momentum since they had lost six of their last seven games going into Saturday. The Tigers (9-14, 4-6 AAC) came off of a home loss against Wichita State University on Wednesday.
“I think after that game we came into practice and we got to work, you know we never stopped grinding, so I think our mentality coming back from that game is what drove us to you know, win this game,” sophomore guard Lashonda Monk said.
It was the second game that both teams played against each other this season, the first one being a 58-46 Memphis home win on Jan. 19.
The team led 20-16 through the first 10 minutes of play because of its ability to get to the line, going 9-for-10 from the free throw line and its pressure on defense making the opponent commit nine turnovers, with seven of those being steals. Although ECU struggled shooting, with a 5-for-18 field goal percentage and defending the paint, especially on second chance opportunities, it managed to build a two possession lead to go into the second quarter.
The Pirates came out strong in the second quarter by creating a 13-point lead ending the quarter 36-23. The high intensity and pace of their defense allowed for them to cause eight turnovers and three steals. However, they were only able to capitalize on four of the 11 opportunities. The game also became much more physical with Memphis committing six fouls and ECU committing five. Both teams also were given technical fouls for a dispute between senior guard Alex Frazier and Memphis freshman center Camille Buckhanon.
“Defense is really our game, it creates a lot of our offense, we like to push and run in transition, we’re just a fast paced team, so we get steals and we go on transition,” Monk said. “It shows our fight, you can’t just be an offensive team, we gotta be a defensive team, defense wins games. So I think we make up for not making shots, on defense,” she added.
During the start of the third, ECU was efficient offensively in the first two minutes of play, as it would score 10 points, and would help build its largest lead of the game, 46-27. But Memphis came back and cut its deficit to single digits with two minutes left.
The Tigers scored 21 points in the third quarter, shot 50 percent from the field and dominated the boards with 16 rebounds. On the other hand, the Pirates went 7-for-21 from the floor while grabbing eight boards.
Coming into the fourth, both of the teams had a slow start with several missed shots. However, Memphis still had nine turnovers to the Pirates’ two. ECU was able to dominate through its 10 offensive rebounds, which created more offensive chances for them and less for Memphis. ECU was able to hold onto its lead and win the game by nine.
ECU struggled shooting the ball throughout the game, as they went 20-for-77 from the field and 3-for-13 from the three point line, for a 26 field goal percentage. The Pirates managed to control the game with their defense, as they forced 31 turnovers and had 18 steals, which led them to 20 points off turnovers.
“It made a really big difference for us because that allowed us to get out in transition, get some easy ones in transition, Lashonda Monk did a really good job of just forcing those turnovers, along with Alex and Raven,” acting head coach Nicole Mealing said.
Although the team struggled offensively, it did a good job on getting to the line and making free shots, as it went 25-for-30 from the free throw line.
Monk finished with 22 points, four rebounds, eight steals and went to the free throw line 16 times, making 15 of them. Junior guard Raven Johnson had 13 points and nine rebounds, while Frazier scored 12 points, two rebounds and two assists.
“We did a really good job, starting from the jump of just attacking and getting to the rim, got to the free throw line, and we were able to knock them down. Lashonda went 15 of 16 so that’s good, she’s in here, she’s working on her free throws all the time, she’s making 50 to 100 every day,” Mealing said.
The Pirates will travel to Dallas, Texas and look to improve their conference record when they take on Southern Methodist University on Thursday at 8 p.m.
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