Pirates Suffer 78-73 Conference Setback at Tulane

NEW ORLEANS (ECU Media Relations) – The East Carolina women’s basketball team placed four scorers in double-digits, but dropped a 78-73 road contest at Tulane in American Athletic Conference action Saturday afternoon inside Devlin Fieldhouse.

Jada Payne led all scorers with 28 points on 11-for-15 shooting overall, including a 4-for-6 day from beyond the three-point arc, en route to eclipsing the 1,800-career point mark. The Hickory, N.C., native now has 1,810 points in her fourth collegiate season. She now has 25 or more points on six different occasions this season. Marina Laramie added 12 points, while I’Tiana Taylor and DeVaughn Gray chipped in 10 points apiece.

Leslie Vorpahl led the Green Wave with 27 points, six rebounds and five assists, while Kolby Morgan added 18 points and six boards.

The game began in a style similar to a track meet with East Carolina (9-11, 3-5 AAC) making long passes to break the defensive press for three quick layups, while Tulane (15-5, 6-2 AAC) was able to set up its half-court offense for five baskets to take an early 10-6 lead just under five minutes into the action.

The Pirates would trail by no more than four for the remainder of the period, as Payne and Frazier scored consecutive layups on ECU’s final two possessions inside the final minute to draw even, 15-15, as the first-quarter horn sounded.

The Green Wave was able to force a pair of turnovers early in the second quarter to open up a five-point lead, 22-17, at the 7:59 mark, but East Carolina began exhibiting confidence in its offensive system with crisp passing that led to three-straight threes with two coming off the hand of Laramie and one from Khadidja Toure to give the purple and gold a 28-27 advantage with 5:46 to go.

Tulane would punch back however with a 9-3 scoring run, capped by a Vorpahl jumper for two of her 10 points in the quarter with two seconds left on the clock to close the half, to take a slight 36-32 advantage into the intermission.

ECU shot 13-for-27 (.481) overall, 5-for-11 (.455) from three and made one of its two free throw attempts in the first half, while the Green Wave went 15-for-29 (.517) from the field, 3-for-8 (.375) beyond the arc and 3-for-5 (.600) at the foul line.

The Pirates reclaimed the lead by one after racing out on a quick 5-0 run just over a minute into the second half behind a layup by Frazier and a three by Payne. Tulane and Taylor exchanged baskets to keep East Carolina in front, 39-38, at the 7:34 mark, but the Green Wave ripped off a 9-0 run from that point to take a 47-39 advantage into the media timeout with 4:55 to go.

ECU was able to burst out onto a 12-4 run of its own, courtesy of nine third-quarter points by Payne, to cut its deficit to just two with the score 51-49, but some small foul trouble enabled the Green Wave to earn free throws and take a 55-51 edge into the final 10 minutes of regulation.

The Pirates drew even at 60 on a three by Gray with 6:26 left in the game, but Vorpahl has an answer at the other end to put Tulane back in front by three. The Green Wave pulled away by five, 67-62, on consecutive layups inside the three-minute mark, but East Carolina cut its deficit to one, 73-72, on another triple by Payne with 1:25 to play.

After a Tulane free throw increased its lead to two, freshman Alex Frazier drew a foul and a chance to tie the game with two free throws, but missed the front end. The Green Wave hit their free throws in the final minute to close out the five-point victory.

ECU finished the day shooting 27-for-58 (.466) overall and matched a season-high with 11 threes made while going 8-for-12 (.667) at the free throw line. The Green Wave shot 28-for-57 (.491) on the floor, 4-for-12 (.333) from deep and 18-for-24 (.750) at the foul stripe.

Tulane owned a 36-28 rebounding advantage, a 32-26 edge scoring in the paint and a 10-4 lead in fast break points, despite the Pirates owning a 15-11 lead in the assists column.

East Carolina will have a seven-day break between contests before hosting Temple next Saturday, Jan. 30 at Williams Arena in Minges Coliseum. Opening tip-off is scheduled for 2:30 p.m., and the game will be broadcast on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app.

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