HOUSTON, Texas – East Carolina ended a two-game road swing with a 66-44 loss to Rice Thursday at Tudor Fieldhouse. The Pirates fall to 6-13 overall and 0-6 in C-USA play while the Owls improve to 10-10 and 4-3.
Freshman Janesha Ebron posted career-high marks in points and rebounds with nine in each category while Chareya Smith led the Pirates with 10 points. ECU out-rebounded the home team 49-43, but was done in by a 24-percent shooting performance. The Pirates also turned the ball over 22 times, leading to 26 Owl points off those miscues.
Rice hit five of its first seven shots and led 12-5 at the first official timeout of the contest. The Owls managed four points while keeping the Pirates scoreless over the next four minutes to move further ahead by a 16-5 count.
ECU had an answer, putting together a 7-2 run down to the 7:22 mark which made the score 18-12. Bryelle Smith knocked down a triple to help bring East Carolina within two before Brianna Hypolite dropped in a layup to leave the margin at six.
The Pirates went cold again, allowing Jessica Kuster to score six-straight points and push the advantage back to double digits. ECU would convert just one field goal in the last nine minutes of the half, leaving the Owls with a 33-16 cushion at the break.
East Carolina put up 29 shots in the stanza, but hit just six for a .207 shooting mark. Conversely, Rice buried 13 of its 25 tries for 52 percent. The Owls also built a slight 21-19 advantage on the glass. Kuster led the way for the home team with 15 points and four rebounds while Kristine Mial posted an ECU team-best five points. Ebron and Britny Edwards added four rebounds apiece in those first 20 minutes.
A short jumper by Christal Porter with about four minutes gone in the second period made the score 40-18. The Pirates’ first field goal of the half came in the form of a Katie Paschal runner in the lane as Rice led 54-23. Foul trouble mounted for the Owls as the game wore down, but the Owls’ lead would be too much to overcome.
East Carolina now returns home for two games and will host Memphis on Sunday, Jan. 29 at 2 p.m.