GREENVILLE, N.C. – Four Pirates scored in double-figures for the third-straight game as the East Carolina women’s basketball team defeated UNCW, 75-65, on Education Day at Williams Arena in Minges Coliseum on Wednesday afternoon.
Kristen Gaffney led ECU in scoring for the third game in a row with 17 points on 7-for-12 shooting with eight rebounds, while Khadidja Toure poured in 16 points with four assists. Antoinette Bannister added 12 points and four helpers, while Bre McDonald chipped in 11 points and eight boards.
Jasmine Steele represented the Seahawks’ top scoring performance with 14 points and five assists, as Jordan Henry contributed 11 points. Jenny DeGraaf grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds.
Defense on display at both ends of the court as both sides missed each of their first five shots, respectively. UNCW (1-1) opened up an early 10-3 advantage, but the Pirates stormed back to tie the game at 12 on a fast-break layup by Toure at the 2:39 mark and took a two-point lead on a Justice Gee drive through the lane on the next possession. Toure finished the quarter with eight points as ECU held a 17-15 lead after 10 minutes of action.
Toure kept the hot hand, scoring ECU’s first five points in the period on a layup and a three-pointer to extend the advantage to 22-17. The Pirates would build their lead to as many as nine, 26-17, with 4:45 remaining, but a 6-0 Seahawks run cut that to just three at the 2:33 mark. The purple and gold would push it back to six and held a 30-24 at halftime.
East Carolina (3-0) shot 11-for-36 (.306) overall, 2-for-8 (.250) from three-point range and 6-for-10 (.600) at the free throw line in the first half, while UNCW went 8-for-26 (.308) from the field, 1-for-11 (.091) beyond the arc and 7-for-12 (.583) at the charity stripe.
The Pirates came out firing to start the second half, which included an 8-2 run ignited by back-to-back 3’s by Bannister and McDonald as UNCW called a timeout at the 8:16 mark. ECU would make nine of its first ten shots and three of four three-pointers to create a 53-39 lead with 2:05 to go in the period. The Seahawks would scrap together a trio of baskets, but East Carolina held a 55-45 advantage heading into the final quarter.
After building a 15-point lead, 65-50, the Seahawks climbed within seven points, 65-58, as the Pirates called timeout (2:34) after enduring a scoring drought that lasted over three minutes before a Gaffney layup out of the break broke that skid. Gaffney hit a pair of layups and Bannister sunk four-straight free throws as ECU closed out the final fraction of the period and held on for the 10-point win.
HEAD COACH HEATHER MACY QUOTE
“The atmosphere was incredible. Thank you so much to Pitt County Schools and our marketing department for putting this on because there’s a ton of work that goes into getting these kids all out of school, bussed over here and organized. They’ve got it down to a science so thanks to all of those guys. What I stressed to the girls at halftime was bringing honor to the way they play the game because there’s a lot of kiddos in these stands who dream to be in their shoes, but also dream of going to school at East Carolina. I thought that our kids did a great job being representatives of the university.”
East Carolina will close out its four-game homestand when it hosts Auburn on Sunday, Nov. 20. Opening tip-off is scheduled for 3:30 p.m., at Williams Arena following the conclusion of the men’s basketball game.