ORLANDO (WNCT) – Jada Payne led four Pirates in double-figure scoring with 27 points and 14 rebounds for her ninth double-double of the season, as the East Carolina women’s basketball team defeated UCF, 71-56, for its first American Athletic Conference victory of the season Thursday night at CFE Arena.
Payne shot 8-for-14 overall and made 10 of 11 free throws to go with three steals, as she has now scored 20 or more points 10 times this season. Marina Laramie and I’Tiana Taylor each scored 12 points, as DeVaughn Gray added 10 points and eight rebounds. Alexandra Frazier handed out a game-high five assists.
Both sides raced out from the opening tip-off, as the Knights worked their way inside the Pirates’ painted area early and often, earning seven free throw attempts in the first quarter. Laramie found her stroke from the outside by knocking down a pair of threes, as ECU did a good job moving the ball around and assisted on four of its five field goal makes despite trailing, 19-16, through the first 10 minutes of action.
East Carolina (6-9, 0-3 AAC) exhibited more aggression on the defensive side of the ball and got the offense going to start the second quarter and outscored UCF (3-10, 0-2 AAC), 13-4, through the first five minutes to take its largest lead of the half, 29-23, into the media stoppage with 4:14 remaining in the half.
The Knights used a 5-0 scoring run from that point to cut their deficit to just one, but the Pirates continued to share the ball and stick shots close to the basket before taking a 37-34 lead into the intermission.
ECU shot 12-for-34 (.353) from the field, 4-for-12 (.333) from three-point range and 9-for-12 (.750) at the free throw line in the first half, while UCF went 13-for-42 (.310) from the floor, 1-for-6 (.167) beyond the arc and 7-for-9 (.778) at the stripe.
The first seven minutes of action elapsed with each team exchanging even blows, but the Knights were able to tie up the game at 47, before Khadidja Toure scored five-straight points on a layup and three-pointer to push the Pirates back on top.
Leading 52-49 to start the fourth quarter, Payne ripped scored five-straight points on her own to begin the period, which concluded with a three-point play at the 8:31 mark to put East Carolina ahead by eight. ECU’s excellent defensive rotations paid off with an outstanding fourth quarter that saw UCF score just seven points, while Payne’s scoring attack resumed to the beat of 5-for-5 at the free throw line and 11 points in the quarter as the Pirates closed out their 15-point victory.
East Carolina finished the night shooting 24-for-74 (.324) overall, 6-for-23 (.261) from deep and 17-for-23 (.739), while the Knights shot 22-for-76 (.289) from the field, 2-for-16 (.125) from beyond the arc and 10-for-13 (.769) at the stripe.
ECU outscored UCF, 24-4, off turnovers and 16-6 on second chance baskets while committing just 12 turnovers.
Aliyah Gregory led the Knights with 14 points and Kayla Thigpen chipped in 11 more.
The Pirates will have a seven-day break between games before hosting Houston next Thursday, Jan. 14. Opening tip is scheduled for 7 p.m., at Williams Arena in Minges Coliseum.