GREENVILLE, N.C. - Down by 15 in the second half, the East Carolina women's basketball team used a 16-2 run to get back into the contest and eventually overtook Conference USA's leader in Southern Miss, posting a 64-58 win inside Minges Coliseum Friday night. The Lady Pirates improve to 14-10 overall and 5-6 in league play while the Golden Eagles had their nine-game winning streak snapped and are now 16-8 on the season and 9-2 in conference play. Additionally, ECU improved to 10-1 at home, matching the third-most wins in a single season inside Minges Coliseum for the program.
The squads stayed even at the outset, as Southern Miss held an 8-6 lead at the 15:53 mark. The Golden Eagles then took charge, scoring nine of the next 11 points to assume a 17-8 advantage at the second media timeout (11:52). Southern Miss stretched its lead to 25-11 on three-point play by Candace Rucker, but consecutive threes from LaCoya Terry and Jasmine Young cut the advantage to 25-17 with 6:46 left in the period. The Lady Pirates closed the deficit to 25-19 on a running layup by Allison Spivey, but Tanesha Washington nailed two-straight treys to stretch the Golden Eagle lead to 12 at the 5:04 mark.
Both team struggled to score heading into the half, as ECU scored the last three points of the stanza to make the score 31-22.
Terry dropped in seven points in the period, while Crystal Wilson pulled down four rebounds. Andrea Barber paced Southern Miss, also netting seven while Stephanie Helgeson picked up six boards. Additionally, the Golden Eagles enjoyed a 22-15 margin on the glass and both team fired at 37 percent from the field while the 22 points were the second-fewest in a period for the Lady Pirates this season.
Southern Miss re-established its double-digit lead at the start of the second half, out-scoring East Carolina 7-3 to take a 38-25 advantage at the 15:45 mark. Points continued to be scarce in the period, as the Golden Eagles out-scored the Lady Pirates 4-2 over the next four minutes, making the score 42-27. The East Carolina offense would find a spark, going on a 16-2 run to pull within one point at 44-43 at the 8:57 mark.
The contest turned into a shootout from there, as Southern Miss scored 14 points as compared to 11 for the Lady Pirates over the the next 4:58 to establish a 58-54 lead. East Carolina eventually took the lead at 59-58 on two free throws from Wilson at the 1:18 mark. The Golden Eagles proceeded to miss a shot, turn the ball over and foul Kim Gay, who hit one of two from the stripe with 16 seconds left. Terry then stole the ball from Kendra Reed on Southern Miss' next possession and found Ashley Clarke, who was fouled and hit both free throws, giving the Lady Pirates a 62-58 advantage with 13 seconds left. Clarke then stepped up defensively, taking a charge on Pauline Love's attempt to push the ball up the floor. Terry was then fouled and hit two more free throws to provide the final six-point margin.
Terry netted 12 points in the contest to lead ECU, while Allison Spivey notched 11. Wilson was a force on the glass, picking up nine rebounds while Young dished out four assists. Barber poured in 12 to lead three Golden Eagles in double figure scoring while Love corralled a team-high eight rebounds.
The Lady Pirates edged Southern Miss from the field, converting 40 percent of their shots as compared to 39 percent for the visitors. The Golden Eagles led the league in field goal percentage entering the contest, hitting 47 percent of their shots on the season. Southern Miss out-rebounded ECU slightly, 37-5, but turned the ball over 24 times against 18 for the home team. With the victory, the Lady Pirates earned a split of the season series.
East Carolina returns to the court on Sunday, taking on UCF, which is now tied for the league lead with Southern Miss after beating Marshall 68-60 in Huntington earlier this evening. The contest is part of the national WBCA "Pink Zone" effort, and any fan wearing pink will receive free admission to the game. Tip off is scheduled for 3 p.m. inside Minges Coliseum.