AMES, Iowa - East Carolina could not overcome Florida A&M's hot shooting in the first half, seeing a second-half rally fall just short in an 89-85 loss to close out the Iowa State Cyclone Challenge. The Pirates will enter Conference USA play at 6-7 overall while the Rattlers are now 5-6.
East Carolina matched its program record for three-point field goals, knocking down 13. Senior Allison Spivey also took over sole possession of second place on the school charts as she now owns 167 as a result of the four in Thursday's game.
ECU converted 31 of 81 shots from the floor for a 38.3 shooting mark, but FAMU had the accurate hand, shooting 31-for-65 (48.8 percent). The Rattlers also ended with a 47-43 advantage on the glass with East Carolina grabbing 24 offensive boards to 16 for FAMU. The Pirates were stronger in the paint, winning the battle down low with 30 points as compared to 22 for the Rattlers. Florida A&M also turned the ball over 23 times while East Carolina recorded 16 miscues.
Senior Kim Gay capped a solid weekend with 20 points and eight rebounds in the contest. Ashley Clarke, Spivey and Kelly Smith also scored in double figures with 13, 12 and 12, respectively. Chareya Smith was the top rebounder for the Pirates, pulling down 10, while pocketing a team-high four steals. Kelly Smith has now scored in double digits four-straight contests.
Florida A&M hit its first seven shots on the way to a 16-7 lead with just four minutes gone. However, ECU clawed back into the game, going on a 15-5 run over the next 4:40 to take a 22-18 advantage.
The Rattlers stormed back, answering the Pirates' run with 29-15 stretch of their own to go up by 12 at 47-35 as the clock wore down. East Carolina would score the final five points of the half, using a three and a layup by Gay to cut the deficit to 47-40 at the break.
Gay led the offense with 11 points in the period while Ariana Jackson netted nine. Chareya Smith was the top rebounder for ECU, pulling down five to go along with four from Gay. Jackson and Kelly Smith also pocketed a pair of steals each.
Florida A&M sizzled from the field, hitting 20 of 34 attempts for a percentage of 58.8, as compared to 31 percent for the Pirates (13-of-42). The Rattlers also held the slight advantage on the glass 23-22. However, East Carolina grabbed 14 offensive boards to score eight second chance points.
Tameka McKelton put FAMU back up by double digits at the 16:50 mark of the second half, making the score 56-45. Two Christian Rateree free throws extended the lead to 14 with 10:55 remaining. The Pirates methodically chipped into the lead, eventually pulling within three at the 5:22 mark at 75-72 with an Ashley Clarke layup. It was as close as ECU would come, with Clarke making the score 85-82 with 33 seconds left. Celeste Stewart hit a triple at the buzzer to provide the final margin.
East Carolina opens the 2011 calendar year and its 10th season of Conference USA play Jan. 6, traveling to UTEP. Tipoff from the Don Haskins Center is set for 9:05 p.m.