GREENVILLE, N.C. - The East Carolina women's basketball team had six players score in double figures Friday evening, taking game one of the 2009 Lady Pirate Invitational 95-57 over Bethune-Cookman at Minges Coliseum. The Lady Pirates are now 5-0 for the first time since the 1998-99 season while the Wildcats fall to 1-4 in 2009-10.
With the victory, head coach Sharon Baldwin-Tener is now just three wins away from passing Catherine Bolton as the winningest coach in program history. Additionally, freshman Celeste Stewart netted a career-best 10 points while fellow rookie Elaine Morgan scored her first two collegiate points.
"We had a great balanced effort tonight," Baldwin-Tener stated. "It was encouraging to see our young players start to do some things out there. I was also impressed by Allison [Spivey] in the first half. She is starting become a more well-rounded basketball player."
The game was tight through the first four minutes, but a layup by Kim Gay and a trey from Spivey allowed the home team to take an 11-6 advantage at the 15:31 mark. ECU then out-scored BCU 15-12 over the next six minutes and established a 26-18 lead with 8:58 left in the period. The Wildcats would not score again until the 4:34 mark, as a 16-0 run extended the Lady Pirate advantage to 42-20 at 4:34. A modest 9-6 spurt gave East Carolina a commanding 51-26 lead at the break.
Redshirt junior Kelly Smith paced the offense with 10 points in the half, marking the first time she has hit double figures as a Lady Pirate. Sophomore Ashley Clarke netted nine while also dishing out five assists. On the glass, Smith and Gay each picked up five rebounds.
ECU torched the nets in the interval, firing at a 57.1 clip while holding the Wildcats to 34.2. The Lady Pirates also dominated the boards, out-rebounding the visitors 27-16.
East Carolina did not let up out of the half, putting together a 13-9 run to push its lead to 29 at 64-35. The teams would trade points over the next four minutes as a two free throws by Crystal Wilson made the score an even 30-point margin, 71-41.
From there, all four of the Lady Pirate freshmen received extended playing time as ECU kept its 30-point cushion. BCU drew no closer than 31 the rest of the way, as the Lady Pirates cruised to the 38-point win.
The 95 points scored were the most for East Carolina since Nov. 28, 2008 when it dropped 98 on North Carolina Central in last season's Lady Pirate Invitational.
Clarke and Smith each scored 12 points to lead ECU while Chareya Smith added 11 and Wilson and Gay scored 10. Freshman Ariana Jackson pulled down a career-high seven rebounds in 13 minutes to paced the Lady Pirates on the boards. Additionally, Clarke handed out a game-best seven assists while Spivey matched her personal best with six.
East Carolina shot at 50 percent or better for the second time this season, converting 50.7 percent from the field as opposed to 35.9 for the Wildcats. The Lady Pirates also owned the glass, outrebounding BCU 56-34. It was the most boards for the team since it collected 54 against Rice Feb. 26 of this year. Additionally, ECU produced 29 assists, just six off of the school record set by the 1988-89 squad.
East Carolina closes out the Lady Pirate Invitational tomorrow evening, taking on Towson at 5:30 p.m. Fans can present their ECU-Southern Miss football ticket and receive free admission to the contest. Eastern Kentucky also faces Bethune-Cookman in the nightcap 30 minutes following the conclusion of the first game.