Uncasville, Conn. – The ECU women’s basketball (16-14, 7-9) defeated SMU (10-20, 4-12) 85-74 in the first round of the American Athletic Conference Tournament inside the Mohegan Sun Arena on Saturday afternoon.
The Pirates were led in scoring by junior Salita Greene, who finished with a career-high 18 points. Freshman Lashonda Monk ended the game second in scoring with 17 points. Fellow freshman Ariyana Williams converted on four-of-seven three-point attempts and finished 16 points, marking the team-best 14th time Williams has recorded double-figures this season. Junior Alex Frazier led the Pirates in minutes played at 37 and recorded 10 points, three rebounds, five assists and only one turnover.
The Pirates went on a 6-0 run in less than a minute in the first quarter to take the lead, at 15-14, after a jump shot from Monk with five seconds left in the quarter. ECU forced the Mustangs into eight turnovers in the last 4:51 of the opening frame.
The purple and gold held a five-point lead at the halftime mark, ahead 40-35. Heather Macy’s squad would extend the lead by four in the third quarter and head into the final quarter ahead by nine points.
ECU would record a game-high 26 points in the final frame and finish the game shooting 70 percent from the field and adding 10 points from the free throw line.
SMU was led in scoring by senior Mckenzie Adams who notched a game-high 25 points, converting on 12-of-13 free throws and 6-of-11 field goals. Ariana Whitfield added 22 points for the Mustangs. SMU would shoot 48.1 (25-of-52) percent from the field and 85.7 (18-of-21) percent from the charity stripe.
ECU forced the Mustangs into their second-highest turnover total on the season, finishing with 31 turnovers. The Purple and gold scored 28 points (32.9 percent) off of the SMU giveaways.
The Pirates have won 2-of-3 games against SMU this season and now lead the all-time series that dates back to 2006, 11-8. Heather Macy is now 8-5 against the Mustangs.
ECU is now 3-3 all-time in the American Athletic Conference and has won a game in the postseason tournament in three of the four years since joining the conference.
Heather Macy’s Opening Statement
“This was a really good team win. In tournament play, you have to play for 40. I think we competed and closed that out. We played our tempo which was the key to the basketball game.”
Macy on the post-season rematch with SMU differences from a year ago
“It was tempo control. When you are talking about 85 points, it is probably more of a half-court game and I think our press continued to elevate the tempo of the basketball game which was key for us. I was proud of how we went to the free throw line and shot it well down the stretch where the score kept going back and forth from 11 to eight. It was nice to see that to finish the game.”
Salita Greene on facing SMU
“After the first loss to SMU, we knew we had something to prove this year. We don’t want to lose more than once to a team especially if we feel like we were off that one game. Coming into the second win against SMU, we owed them. We came into today trying to leave our footprint.”
Lashonda Monk on the win
“It was anybody’s game so we had to go out and play how we know how to play to pull out the win.”
ECU (16-14, 7-9),SMU (10-20, 4-12)
News and Notes
• ECU recorded only 15 turnovers, tying the third-lowest total from a single-game this season.
• The purple and gold 24 made free throws marks a new season-high.
• The Pirates four freshman combined for 42 points.
• Salita Greene’s 18 points mark a new personal career-high. Greene has now lead the Pirates in scoring two times this season.
• Lashonda Monk reached double-figures for the eighth time this season with 17 points.
• Ariyana Williams converted four three-pointers and finished with 17 points.
• Alex Frazier notched 10 points, three rebounds, five assists and only one turnover in a team-high 37 minutes.
• The Pirates lead the all-time series over SMU that dates back to 2006, 11-8.
ECU will advance to the quarterfinals of the AAC Tournament to face No. 2 USF on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. in the Mohegan Sun Arena. The game can be watched on ESPNU and on WatchESPN.