GREENVILLE, N.C. - Led by career performances from junior Allison Spivey and Sophomore Ashley Clarke, the East Carolina women's basketball team opened the 2009-10 season with an emphatic 84-61 win over 2009 Atlantic 10 champion Charlotte Friday evening at Minges Coliseum.
Spivey netted a career-best 25 points on 9-for-15 shooting, while she also notched a personal-high five three-point field goals. Meanwhile, Clarke also torched the nets for a career-standard 22, hitting seven of 14 field goals she attempted. Additionally, head coach Sharon Baldwin-Tener moved to within seven victories of becoming the all-time program leader in coaching wins.
"I thought this was a great team win for us," head coach Sharon Baldwin-Tener stated. "We have had a great preseason and we definitely transferred many of those good aspects to the game tonight. I have a lot of respect for this Charlotte program, especially considering their accomplishments last season. I look forward to us getting back at it on Sunday against Western Carolina."
After Erin Floyd gave Charlotte the lead with a three-pointer just 22 seconds in, Spivey connected on a trey about a minute later to tie things up. A fastbreak layup by Spivey made the score 7-3 in the home team's favor and the Lady Pirates would extend the advantage to 13-5 at the 14:32 mark with a Crystal Wilson layup.
The 49ers cut the lead to 16-14 with 11:36 remaining in the half when Jennifer Hailey converted a layup. Chareya Smith then capped off a 10-2 run for East Carolina with a layup of her own at 8:47. Another Spivey three gave the Lady Pirates a 33-22 lead with just under four minutes left in the period and Charlotte would get no closer than 10 the rest of the way. Two Kendria Holmes free throws would make the margin 37-27 in favor of ECU at halftime.
Spivey led all scorers at the break, putting in 14 points while Clarke followed close behind with nine. Shannon McCallum paced the 49ers with nine. On the glass, Erin Floyd of Charlotte pulled in a half-high six and Kim Gay contributed four for the Lady Pirates.
ECU held a slight advantage from the field, firing at a 38.2 clip as compared to 34.5 for the 49ers. The Lady Pirates also out-rebounded Charlotte 25-21, collecting 10 offensive boards in the process.
Clarke gave East Carolina its largest lead of the contest at 47-34, converting a three-point play at the 15:59 mark. The Lady Pirates then out-scored the 49ers 10-5 over the next four minutes, stretching the advantage to 57-39 on a Wilson layup.
Charlotte began to chip away at its deficit, pulling to within 59-46 on an Aysha Jones layup. However, Spivey knocked down another trey to make the score 62-46 with 10:20 left in the game. Two free throws by Jones brought the 49ers back within 12 again at the 8:41 mark, but a quick 7-0 spurt, including five points by Spivey, extended the ECU advantage to 70-51, effectively putting the game away. Charlotte came no closer than 17 the rest of the way as all four Lady Pirate freshmen secured their first collegiate minutes in the final seven of the contest.
In addition to Spivey and Clarke's 47 combined points, Chareya Smith and Wilson recorded eight, a career-best for Smith. On the glass, Kelly Smith picked up seven rebounds to lead East Carolina in her Lady Pirate debut.
Additionally, freshmen Celeste Stewart and Shala Hodges netted their first collegiate points.
East Carolina held the distinct advantage in shooting, making 45.6 percent of its shots while the 49ers netted 32.8 percent of their attempts. The Lady Pirates also out-dueled the visitors on the glass, 49-40, while grabbing 20 offensive boards.
ECU returns the court in just two days, hosting 2009 Southern Conference champion Western Carolina on Sunday at 2 p.m. The tip is scheduled for 2 p.m. at Minges Coliseum.