AUBURN, Ala. (ECU Media Relations) – Jada Payne scored a team-high 23 points and I’Tiana Taylor recorded her third-straight double-double with 20 points and 14 rebounds, but the East Carolina women’s basketball team dropped its first away game of the season, 83-69, at Auburn on Saturday afternoon.
Payne shot 8-for-21 from the field and played all 40 minutes, while Taylor shot 8-for-15 on the day. DeVaughn Gray also reached double-figures with a season-high 14 points, while Khadidja Toure chipped in eight points, five assists and a career-high seven steals.
East Carolina (6-3) struggled with the Tigers’ press defense and fell into a small hole, 9-2, through the first two-and-a-half minutes of action, but Taylor scored the first six points to ignite a 16-2 scoring run that put the Pirates in front, 18-11 with 3:46 remaining. Auburn (5-2) responded with a 9-0 run of their own to reclaim the lead by two, before Gray knocked down a floater to tie the game at 20-all at the end of the opening period.
After forcing 11 turnovers in the first quarter, the Tigers continued to pressure ECU on its possessions and erupted with 13-straight points to begin the second, before a Payne three ended the run with 5:48 to play. Auburn forced eight more turnovers and held East Carolina to just nine points in the 10-minute frame to take a 47-29 lead into the locker rooms at halftime.
The Pirates shot 10-for-29 (.345) from the field, 4-for-12 (.333) from three-point range and 5-for-6 (.833) at the free throw line in the first half, while the Tigers went 17-for-32 (.531) on the floor, 5-for-10 (.500) from beyond the arc and 8-for-13 (.615) at the foul stripe.
Taylor took advantage of all her feeds in the paint by making five shots and a pair of free throws to lead all players with 12 points in the period, but both sides scored 25 points apiece, as ECU was unable to close the gap on the scoreboard.
East Carolina chipped into its deficit to 15 just over three minutes into the final quarter, but the Tigers were able to push the advantage to 21 points with just 3:02 to go. Payne was able to sink a three, while she and Alex Frazier connected on layups to close the afternoon on a 7-0 run to arrive at the 83-69 final.
The Pirates finished the day 24-for-62 (.387) overall, 6-for-24 (.250) from beyond the arc and 15-for-20 (.750) at the free throw line, while Auburn shot 31-for-59 (.525) from the field, 6-for-15 (.400) from three and 15-for-27 (.556) at the stripe.
The score was even, 36-36, in the paint, and ECU held a 23-12 advantage on second chance baskets, but the Tigers turned 33 Pirate turnovers into 24 points and had a 15-3 lead in bench points.
East Carolina will have a 13-day break between contests before returning to action Dec. 18-19 for the UNC Wilmington Christmas Classic. The Pirates will face Chattanooga and Ohio at 12 noon on respective days.