GREENVILLE, N.C. – Kristen Gaffney scored six of her career-high 32 points in overtime as the East Carolina women’s basketball team edged out Detroit-Mercy, 83-81, in non-conference action Sunday afternoon at Williams Arena in Minges Coliseum.
Gaffney made a personal-best 15 field goals on 23 attempts and pulled down eight rebounds, while Bre McDonald recorded her second double-double in as many games with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Antoinette Bannister made five three-pointers and finished with 15 points, five boards and three assists, as Gabrielle Holston chipped in 10 points and eight rebounds. Freshman Raven Johnson scored all nine of East Carolina’s (2-0) bench points and grabbed six rebounds in 14 minutes.
Detroit-Mercy (1-1) was led by Rosanna Reynolds’ 19 points and seven assists, as Nicole Urbanick contributed 16 points and Haleigh Ristovski notched a game-high 16 rebounds.
+East Carolina snapped a five-game skid in overtime contests, earning its first victory in such games since an 83-73 win at UAB on February 8, 2014.
+Bannister has now made at least five three-pointers in each of her first two games as a Pirate.
+Gaffney has recorded career-highs in points in each of her last two games.
+Freshman Justice Gee now has 12 assists and a 4:1 assist to turnover ratio in her first two collegiate contests.
Both sides exchanged threes to start the game, before the Titans ripped off a 6-0 run to take a 9-3 lead and force the Pirates into calling their first timeout with 6:46 on the clock. ECU would counter with a 9-3 run of its own to tie the game at 12-all. Detroit hit a pair of threes and Gaffney knocked down a one-handed turnaround shot from the baseline as time expired to cut her team’s deficit to five, 21-16.
The Pirates got within one point of the Titans on multiple occasions in the quarter, the second time following a 5-0 run ignited by a Gaffney layup and a Bannister transition three-pointer that made the score 34-33 and forced Detroit into calling a timeout with 2:39 to go in the half. ECU was able to hold the visitors without a field goal for the final four minutes of the period, but took a 36-33 deficit into the locker rooms at halftime.
East Carolina shot 13-for-36 (.361) overall, 3-for-9 (.333) from three and 4-for-5 (.800) at the free throw line in the first half, while Detroit-Mercy went 12-for-28 (.429) from the field, 7-for-16 (.438) beyond the arc and 5-for-10 (.500) at the foul stripe.
ECU came out firing as the two sides were tied three times in the early going after a Holston three-pointer in the first minute made it 36-36, a Bannister three tied it at 41, and a Gaffney layup with 5:48 remaining evened the score at 43. Detroit would pull ahead by five, 49-44, with 3:08 to play, but efficient offense gave the Pirates their first lead of the game on a Bannister three at 1:35 for a 51-50 advantage. Bannister knocked down another three with 35 seconds remaining and was fouled, but could not convert the free throw as East Carolina held on to take a 54-53 lead into the final 10 minutes of regulation.
The Titans and Pirates exchanged baskets and were tied four more times in the final 10 minutes at 56-all, 60-all, 62-all and 70 apiece. A pair of free throws by Reynolds with 18 seconds left put Detroit ahead, 70-67. ECU drew up a play to get Bannister a chance to tie the game, but her shot was off the rim, rebounded by a teammate and passed back to her by Alex Frazier when Bannister sunk a three from the right side of the arc with eight seconds remaining to tie game at 70 and send the game to a five-minute overtime.
Both sides traded buckets to tie the game at 74 at the 3:06 mark, and despite Gaffney making one of her three shots in the final frame, Ristovski sunk a three to put the visitors in front, 77-76, with 2:31 to go. A jumper by Frazier and a pair of free throws by McDonald put ECU ahead, 80-77, with 1:16 remaining and a third and final field goal by Gaffney kept the Pirates in front for good, 82-79, before holding on for the two-point triumph.
HEAD COACH HEATHER MACY QUOTES
“We needed this, we needed this. We lost eight (games) a year ago with one possession. Instead we hit a big three to send it to overtime, which I think a year ago, that’s what we were seeing. It would be the opposite. We would think we would need that one stop, then they would make a three and get it to overtime and then have the momentum going into it. So I’m just incredibly pleased with this win. I think it’s a ton for us to build on and then thankful that we get to come back next week and play in Minges again.
“We had to make a couple of changes based on foul trouble. I think that hurt us a little bit going into the fourth, but that’s all a learning curve. I had to say to Gaff like, ‘You have to help me out, can you play with fouls or how’s this working? When’s the time to put you back in?’ We’re learning as a team who wants it down the stretch and who we want in when we get fouled. So those are all things that I’m thankful today that we can learn those things through a win.”
ANTOINETTE BANNISTER QUOTE
“I had a bad first half. My teammates kept encouraging me, telling me to shoot the ball because that’s what I do. And right at the end of the game when I missed that first one, I just said, ‘Well I’m going to make the next one.’ That was my mindset. This next one is going in and it went in. I try to have a Steph Curry mindset. I remember last week, Friday, he went 0-for-10 from the three-point line and he comes back and hits 13 threes and breaks a record. So I try to have a mindset like him, he’s a shooter and I’m a shooter.”
East Carolina will host UNC Wilmington for Education Day on Wednesday, Nov. 16. Tip-off is scheduled for 11:30 a.m., at Williams Arena in Minges Coliseum.