GREENVILLE, N.C. - Down by 12 at halftime, East Carolina rallied to take a four-point lead in the second period but could not hold off UNC Wilmington Friday, falling 84-73 at Minges Coliseum. The Pirates are now 1-2 to begin the season while the Seahawks are 2-0.
"We showed a lot of fight in the second half after getting down like we did, then going ahead and taking the lead," head coach Heather Macy said. "I am really proud of our team for that. UNC Wilmington played with a lot of emotion and made absolutely huge buckets."
Senior Kim Gay put in 12 points to lead five players in double figures, while recording her fifth-straight double-digit effort dating back to the WNIT road win at Drexel last season. She also pulled down a team-high 11 rebounds to capture her fifth double-double of her career. Junior Chareya Smith followed close behind with 11 points, complemented by 10-point outbursts from Ashley Clarke, Celeste Stewart and Ariana Jackson. Clarke also recorded a team-best six assists.
Junior Jean Best logged her first playing time of the season, scoring seven points and grabbing two rebounds in 10 minutes.
"I was pleased to see Jean Best back tonight and playing some good minutes for us," Macy added. "It was a good first appearance for her."
Kristen Hanzer gave UNCW an early 14-5 lead when she nailed a triple at the 14:48 mark. However, a Clarke layup brought ECU to within two points at 19-17 with 9:56 remaining in the half.
The Seahawks kept the Pirates at arms length the rest of the half, out-scoring the home team 28-18 to take a 12-point lead into the locker room.
Jackson put East Carolina ahead with a layup four minutes into the second half, capping off an 18-4 run that gave the Pirates their first lead of the game. The score stayed close for the next six minutes as ECU clung to a two-point lead. Jessica Freeman brought UNCW even, however, hitting a jumper off the fast break to tie things at 63.
Two free throws gave the Pirates their last lead of the contest at the 8:51 mark, but the Seahawks took over from there, ending the game on a 21-8 run. Gay cut the lead to single digits with a three-pointer with 1:25 left, but that was as close as East Carolina would get.
The Pirates continue their four-game homestand Monday, hosting Virginia Union. Tipoff at Minges Coliseum is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Copyright 2016 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.