The old saying goes, sometimes it’s better to be good than lucky, but East Carolina’s women’s basketball team just hasn’t been lucky this season
The Pirates have played in 16 games, 12 of which resulted in double-digit victories by the winner. The Pirates pulled in a record of 7-5 in those games. The reason for the Pirates 7-9 overall record is because the Pirates have come up short in tight games.
“We haven’t had any bouncing balls bounce our way,” said Pirates head coach Heather Macy.
The Pirates are 0-4 in one possession games this season. From I’Tiana Taylor’s missed layup against nationally ranked Northwestern to Jada Payne’s missed eight-foot jumper to tie the game against Ohio, the Pirates just haven’t been able to buy a break. Macy is optimistic about her team’s chances going forward however.
“It’s been a really tough stretch,” said Macy. “[But] we’re having some really great practices. I think we’re learning a lot. We will be back stronger than ever, and peak at the right time.”
Macy also says that inexperience is a big factor in these close game loses, as last year her team was 2-3 in those one-possession games.
“We only have three returning players,” said Macy. “Majority of our team hasn’t been in these scenarios. We’re having to learn the hard way. We’ve missed some crucial free throws, we need to knock down open looks, and get stops in the final possessions.”
Before the season, Macy had lofty goals for her team, as she said she wanted to make the Sweet 16, even though the Pirates have never won a game in the NCAA tournament.
Last year’s team made the second round of the WNIT, and was 10-6 through its first 16 games. This year’s team has played a tougher schedule however, as the Pirates have already played three nationally ranked teams. And with two games against Geno Auriemma and No. 1 UConn remaining, it will make at least five games against nationally ranked teams, not including who they could face in the conference tournament.
Being on the road certainly hasn’t helped, as the Pirates have only played four games at home this season. It’s now hard to imagine that the Pirates can make the NCAA tournament, as last year’s tournament only welcomed 12 teams with 10 or more losses, with the majority of those teams winning its conference tournaments or from the Power 5 conferences.
Even if this year isn’t the breakout year that Macy imagined, it can still turn things around if the team peaks at the right time. Winning the WNIT may not be the goal, but it’s more realistic at this point and could boost program status, with the program never having won two WNIT games.