GREENVILLE, N.C. – East Carolina earned a split of the season series with Southern Miss Thursday, blowing by the Golden Eagles 91-67 at Minges Coliseum. The Pirates improve to 11-12 overall and 5-5 in Conference USA while Southern Miss falls to 9-14 and 4-6.
ECU scored the second-most points in a C-USA regular season contest since joining the league while tying the school record with 13 three-point field goals. The Pirates also netted a season third-best 32 field goals and registered 21 assists on those buckets.
“The first half was key tonight,” head coach Heather Macy said. “We rebounded the ball, kept them off the glass and limited them to only four offensive rebounds. I thought we did an amazing job in the first half and an average job in the second half. Our posts did a great job rebounding the ball while our guards got in and scrapped inside. Our shooters shot it well and the way Crystal came in and made three threes for us was huge. I’m real proud of her and they way she played.”
ECU shot a season-best 56 percent from the field (32-for-57) while holding the visitors to 39 percent (28-for-71). The Pirates also held the advantage in rebounding by a 43-29 count but turned the ball over 26 times as compared to 14 for USM. East Carolina helped itself from the free throw line, draining 14 of its 18 tries.
“I think when you shot it as well as we did in the first half, it all of sudden starts to open up driving lanes and really changes the game,” Macy added. “As a result, we were able to get to the hole and free throw line.”
With 14 points in the contest, senior Allison Spivey sits just six away from 1,000 for her career. Ashley Clarke led four players in double figures with 18 points while Kim Gay and Crystal Wilson dropped in 15 each. Additionally, Wilson knocked down a career-high three triples and Spivey added four to her program career-best total of 187. On the glass, Jean Best pulled down a team-best 10 rebounds while just missing a double-double with nine points.
East Carolina welcomed back two of its seniors as squad leading scorer Gay and Kelly Smith made their first appearances in two and three games, respectively.
Jamierra Faulkner gave Southern Miss a 13-10 lead at the 14:40 mark, hitting two free throws after knocking down a three. However, ECU responded with a 12-2 run, capped off by a Wilson trey, to push in front 22-15 with 11:01 remaining in the period.
The Pirates quickly extended the lead all the way to 20, using a trio of three-point shots to out-score the Golden Eagles 17-4 down to the 5:52 mark and make the score 39-19. The advantage rose as high as 21 before Tanesha Washington closed out the half’s scoring with a free throw as ECU held a 48-28 lead at the break.
Wilson paced all scorers with 11 in the first 20 minutes on four-of-five shooting while Jean Best had six rebounds to show for her 12 minutes played. Clarke also had three of the Pirates’ 11 assists.
East Carolina blistered the nets in the period, converting 60 percent of its attempts from the field, as the Pirates also recorded a plus 10 rebounding margin (21-11).
A layup by Gay at the 17:16 mark of the second half afforded ECU its largest lead of the contest at 55-32, before a Nia Bradford layup brought the advantage back down to 58-38.
The Golden Eagles eventually cut their deficit down to 17 when Faulkner dropped in a layup, but only 6:03 showed on the clock. A trey by Gay on the next possession would make it a 20-point affair once more.
Washington brought Southern Miss to within 14 via a jumper in the paint with 2:58 left. However, it would be the last points the Golden Eagles scored as the Pirates netted the last 10 points of the evening. A scrappy offensive rebound and put back by freshman Katie Paschal ended the scoring, pushing ECU over 90 points for the third time this season.
East Carolina returns to action Sunday in a nationally-televised tilt at league-leading Houston, who is undefeated in C-USA play at 10-0. Tipoff is scheduled for 2:45 p.m. ET and will be shown live on ESPN2 as part of the network’s February Frenzy.