GREENVILLE, N.C. - The East Carolina women's basketball team dropped just its second home game of the season, losing a tough 66-65 decision to Houston in the regular season finale for both teams. The Lady Pirates end regular season play with an overall record of 17-12 while finishing 8-8 in league play. The Cougars improved to 19-9 overall and 11-5 in C-USA action.
The 17 regular season wins mark the most in the seven-year tenure of Head Coach Sharon Baldwin-Tener while the 12-2 home record is also the new standard under her watch. The squad also fell just shy of matching the most home wins in school history.
ECU jumped out to a quick 6-2 lead, thanks to LaCoya Terry, who netted all six points to begin the contest. Houston would respond, tying the game on a fastbreak layup by Brittney Scott. Then, with 11:41 remaining in the half, the Cougars took their first lead when Porsche Landry nailed a mid-range jumper, making the score 16-15. Houston would push its lead out to five, going on a 6-2 run that gave the visitors a 22-17 advantage at the 8:58 mark. However, layups and free throws helped the Lady Pirates regain the lead at 24-23 with 6:38 remaining in the period.
With the score knotted at 25, East Carolina would score five-straight points in 1:18 to earn its largest lead of the contest at 30-25. But in the last five minutes of the stanza, the Cougars out-scored the Lady Pirates 8-4 to pull within one at the break.
Terry led the charge offensively for ECU in the first half, netting 11 points while Jasmine Young and Ashley Clarke added six. Additionally, a trio of Lady Pirates in Terry, Crystal Wilson and Tiahana Bowens pulled down four rebounds in the period. Scott was the star for Houston, dropping in 18 points while Landry added eight.
The Cougars held the advantage from the field in the period, converting 45 percent of their shots while East Carolina made 40 percent. However, the Lady Pirates out-dueled Houston on the glass, enjoying a 24-14 margin.
The teams stayed close in the first half, and when ECU took a three-point lead at the 16:04 mark, Courtney Taylor drilled a three for the Cougars, knotting the score at 44. The Lady Pirates then edged ahead, 54-50, when Clarke found Terry all alone for a fastbreak layup with 9:17 remaining, but Houston answered again, this time on a Scott trey to cut the lead to 54-53.
ECU stretched its lead to five, 60-55, at the 5:30 mark, but as they had all game, the Cougars responded, using an 8-2 run to take their first lead since the first half. A three-point play by Scott put Houston in front, 66-64, with 1:41 left in the game, but Young hit a free throw to pull the Lady Pirates within one at the 1:06 mark. After Terry missed a jumper with 16 seconds left, Brittany Mason was fouled and sent to the line with seven ticks remaining for a one-and-one opportunity. She would miss the shot and Wilson grabbed the defensive rebound. However, Wilson drove down the left side and attempted a pass to Terry that was picked off by Jasmine Johnson, sealing the game for the Cougars.
Terry and Young both netted 17 points in their final appearance at Minges Coliseum while Terry added five rebounds. Crystal Wilson proved the top rebounder for ECU, grabbing eight on the afternoon. Scott dropped 27 points for Houston while Taylor added 18 and pulled down 11 boards for a double-double. The Cougars shot 40 percent in the contest while holding the Lady Pirates to 39.6 efficiency, the first time in 12 contests that East Carolina failed to fire at a 40 percent-plus clip. As for the glass, the squads ended up even at 38.
The Lady Pirates now prepare for the 2009 Conference USA Women's Basketball Championship, slated for March 5-8 inside Fogelman Arena at Tulane University. ECU's seed, opponent and game time will be announced by the conference office tomorrow.
For the past 13 years, C-USA has awarded the championship trophy to eight different outstanding teams, including East Carolina in 2007. Fans may purchase their tickets in advance by calling the East Carolina ticket office at 252.328.4500 or online at ecupirates.com. General admission All Session tickets are $50 for adults and $40 for youth, while Single Session prices are $10 for adults and $7 for youth.