GREENVILLE, N.C. – East Carolina led wire to wire and shot 55 percent in the second half to pick up a 71-64 Conference USA victory over UAB Thursday at Minges Coliseum. The Pirates are now 8-11 overall and 2-4 in C-USA action while the Blazers fall to 9-11 and 1-6.
With the victory, ECU has now won 15 of their last 19 contests against C-USA opponents at Minges Coliseum. The Pirates have also defeated the Blazers in six of the last seven meetings while pushing their lead in the series to 12-7.
Senior Allison Spivey netted a season-high 20 points on 6-for-11 shooting from the field. She also knocked down four three-point field goals to move her career total to 166 – just one away from tying Jasmine Young for the program career record. Kim Gay and Ashley Clarke scored in double figures as well with 12 and 11 points, respectively, while Gay joined Spivey in pulling down a team-best seven rebounds. Additionally, Clarke handed out a game-best five assists.
The Pirates had the better of the shooting, finishing with 20 field goals on 48 attempts for a 42-percent performance as compared to a 23-for-74 (31 percent) showing for UAB. The Blazers won the rebounding battle by just one at 45-44, but picked up 25 offensive boards to keep the contest close. East Carolina helped itself from the charity stripe, draining 76-percent of its free throws (25-for-33) which marked the ninth time in the last 11 games it has made at least 70 percent.
In the second half, the Pirates were able to force turnovers and get out in transition, finishing the tilt with 23 points off 20 visitor miscues.
ECU held UAB scoreless for over four minutes to start the contest, and would hold a 7-2 lead at the first official timeout (15:35). The Blazers would pull within 11-7 with just over 12 minutes showing on the first-half clock on a jumper by Amber Jones, but a Kim Gay three-point play pushed the advantage back to seven.
A three-point field goal from Allison Spivey made the score 23-15 at the 6:57 mark, but UAB battled back, getting within one at 25-24 with a Jones free throw as the clock ticked under four minutes. However, East Carolina would out-score the Blazers 6-2 the rest of the half as Spivey gave the Pirates a 31-26 lead with a buzzer-beating breakaway layup.
UAB put up 36 shots in the first 20 minutes, but only made nine for a 25-percent showing while ECU also made nine on 28 attempts for 32 percent. The Blazers held a slight 26-24 edge on the glass but garnered 15 offensive rebounds to give themselves extra looks. UAB’s bench also kept it close as it out-scored the Pirate reserves 14-4. East Carolina helped itself out from the charity stripe, knocking down 11 of 12 tries while the visitors were 4-for-8 at the line.
Kim Gay netted a team-high nine points in the half for ECU while Jean Best pulled down five rebounds. For the Blazers, Amanda Peterson drained a trio of shots from beyond the arc to pace her squad with nine to complement five boards each from Khalilah Watson and Karisma Chapman.
UAB kept within four points for the first four minutes of the second half, but a Spivey triple gave the Pirates their largest lead of the game at the time, 49-39, at the 12:11 mark.
The lead would grow to as much as 12 when Celeste Stewart nailed a transition three with just over eight minutes remaining in the contest, but the Blazers made one last charge. With the score at 63-51 after Clarke knocked down two free throws at the 4:04 mark, UAB went on a 7-1 run to make it a 64-58 game as the clock showed 1:32 remaining. However, Gay answered with a layup on the ensuing possession to push the East Carolina advantage back to eight.
Karisma Chapman scored on a layup to cut her team’s deficit to five but only 14 seconds were left as Spivey hit a pair of free throws to close out the scoring.
ECU stays at home for its next contest as the Pirates entertain UCF Sunday at Minges Coliseum. Tipoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. The Pirates will also welcome over 30 of their alumni that day as the former East Carolina players will participate in an alumni game at 10 a.m.