GREENVILLE, N.C. – Senior point guard Celeste Stewart drained a career-high 26 points as she led a trio of Pirates in double-figures as the East Carolina women’s basketball team earned a 63-47 victory over conference foe SMU to snap the Mustangs’ 10-game winning streak and hand them their first loss in league action.
With the win, the Pirates improve to 17-6 overall and 7-3 in Conference USA action, while the Mustangs fall to 18-5 on the year and 9-1 in league play. The Pirates are now 11-1 at Minges Coliseum.
Prior to the contest, SMU was averaging 70.4 points per game and the ECU defense limited the Mustangs to just 47 points, while out-shooting them 53.1-percent to 31-percent in the second half. The Pirates concluded the game with 10 steals while having forced SMU into 23 turnovers to collect as many points off of turnovers in the contest.
Stewart led the offensive charge as she tallied 26 points, in which 19 where scored in the second half. She added a game-high five assists, two rebounds and as many steals. Whitny Edwards added 14 points, two rebounds and a steal, while Britny Edwards chipped in 11 points, nine boards, two steals, one assist, and one block. Kyani White led the Pirate defense with three steals and four rebounds, while adding nine points and two assists. Kristine Mial posted a game-best three blocks, three assists and five rebounds to go along with a steal.
After trailing early, 9-2, the Pirates turned things around with a 13-2 run to take a 15-11 advantage at 7:45. The Mustangs were able to tie the game at 15, but Chanel Green would make both of her free throws to give ECU a 17-15 lead that it would hold for the remainder of the half. Green’s free throws set off another run, as the offense tallied eight points while the defense did not allow SMU to score. With a 25-15 lead with just 2:14 left in the first half, the Mustangs’ offense heated up as they closed the first half on a 7-0 run as ECU took a 23-22 advantage into the locker room at halftime.
Although SMU got the second half started with a three-pointer from Keena Mays, followed by a jumper from Destynee Hives-McCray to take a 27-23 lead, the Pirates would not let that stop them. ECU fired back and tied the game at 27 and eventually took a six-point lead (37-31) on a layup from Britny Edwards. SMU would manage to take one more lead in the game after a three-point field goal from Korina Baker put the Mustangs up 39-38 at 11:43, but the lead would not last long as ECU used a second half offensive boost to push its lead to 13 on three separate occasions. With just 1:39 remaining, East Carolina was able to extend its lead to 16 after connecting on three of four free throws to end the game, and end SMU’s winning streak with a 63-47 victory.
The Pirate defense was on point throughout the contest as ECU limited SMU’s leading scorer, Mays, who was averaging 20.6 points per game to just eight points in the contest. The Mustangs’ leading scorer in the game was Hives-McCray who notched 17 points and added eight rebounds. Akil Simpson also tallied eight boards, while contributing eight points and two assists.
ECU will return to Minges Coliseum for a Sunday afternoon contest against Southern Miss. The Pirates and Golden Eagles will tip-off at 1 p.m., on February 17. Live stats, video, and a live internet broadcast will be available on ECUPirates.com.
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