GREENVILLE, N.C. - The East Carolina women's basketball team rebounded from a tough loss at VCU Tuesday, opening the Lady Pirate Invitational with a 98-39 victory over North Carolina Central Friday night inside Minges Coliseum. The Lady Pirates improve to 4-1 overall while the Eagles drop to 0-6 on their campaign.
The 59-point margin of victory was just seven off of the East Carolina program best and the largest since an 80-30 victory over Columbia on Dec. 3, 1994. The 98-point total was also the biggest for the squad in over a year, as the Lady Pirates dropped 97 on Presbyterian in last season's home opener.
NC Central was the first to score when LaVonna Hailey hit a deep jumper from the left side to give her team a 2-0 lead just 39 seconds in. However, sophomore Allison Spivey hit a trey two minutes later, putting ECU up 3-2. A 5-1 run by the Lady Pirates gave them an 8-3 advantage with 15 minutes left but the teams traded points over the next six minutes, keeping the Eagles within six at 14-9. From there, East Carolina took over the next two minutes, scoring nine-straight to extend its lead to 23-9. Another Lady Pirate run, this time 10-2, enlarged their advantage to 33-11, however, NC Central outscored ECU 9-7 the rest of the half to make the score 40-11 at halftime.
Sophomore Kim Gay led all scorers at the half with 11 while seniors LaCoya Terry and Gabriela Husarova both grabbed a team-leading four boards. The Lady Pirates enjoyed a fine shooting half, firing at 51.5 percent, including a 66.7 mark from three-point range.
East Carolina came out blazing in the second half, going on a 14-4 run over the first five minutes to take a commanding 57-23 lead, helped by eight quick points from Terry. The Lady Pirates would keep shooting the ball well while playing solid defense, going on another scoring streak, this time 14-4 to give them their largest advantage to that point, 71-27, with 11 minutes left in the game. An offensive rebound and a putback by freshman Chareya Smith with five minutes remaining represented her first collegiate points of the season and pushed the ECU lead to 84-33. The Lady Pirates would cruise from there, trading points with the Eagles, which provided the final 59-point margin.
Terry and Spivey shared the lead in scoring for East Carolina, as both produced 14 points while Husarova was the most effective on the glass, corralling nine rebounds. Additionally, freshman Ashley Clarke set a career high, dishing out a team-high seven assists.
The Lady Pirates were on fire from the field, shooting a season-best 57.6 percent while holding NC Central to a mark of just 31.5. It was the first time ECU shot better than 50 percent from the field since Jan. 31 when it defeated Southern Miss, 86-70, shooting at a clip of 52.6 in that contest. The Lady Pirates also exerted their dominance on the boards, pulling down 48 as compared to 25 for the Eagles. Additionally, East Carolina had five double-figure scorers, the first time that has happened since the season-opening win over Presbyterian a year ago.
The Lady Pirates return to Minges Coliseum tomorrow as they will face either Buffalo or North Carolina A&T in the championship contest of the Lady Pirate Invitational at 7 p.m. The consolation contest is scheduled for 5 p.m.
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