GREENVILLE, N.C. – In a matchup of teams that combined to win 10 of their last 12 Thursday, East Carolina turned in a dominant effort in downing Southern Miss 70-57 at Minges Coliseum. The Pirates have now taken five of their last six to improve to 11-18 overall and end Conference USA play at 5-11. Meanwhile, the Golden Eagles fell to 12-17 and 6-10.
East Carolina ended the year 9-5 at home, matching last season’s ledger, and has now captured 42 of its last 56 at Minges Coliseum. Additionally, the Pirates have won 11 of the last 16 in league play and kept Southern Miss winless in Greenville since 2007.
Seniors Bryelle Smith and Chareya Smith played their final contest at home and were big factors in helping ECU emerge victorious. Bryelle posted six assists against just two turnovers while Chareya ended the evening with 15 points, her seventh-straight double-figure scoring effort, and seven rebounds.
Britny Edwards filled up the stat sheet to the tune of 17 points, seven rebounds, four blocks and three assists while moving into sole possession of 10th place on the East Carolina single-season blocked shots chart. She now has 43 this season. Sophomore Kristine Mial also chipped in with 11 points, four assists, three (3) three-point field goals and two steals.
The Pirates used a 50-percent performance from the field in the first half, hitting 17 of its 34 attempts, to end up at 41 percent for the contest and held the Golden Eagles to a 36-percent showing. ECU also out-rebounded the visitors 47-42 and received a 32-point outburst from its bench players – including the 17 by Edwards. Both squads turned the ball over 18 times and East Carolina was able to net 22 points off the Southern Miss miscues. Additionally, the 43 points scored in the first half by the Pirates represent the most in a half in C-USA action this season.
The Golden Eagles raced out to an 8-2 advantage thanks to six points by Jamierra Faulkner and would hold a 12-6 lead at the 13:17 mark, however, ECU responded in a big way with an 18-4 run which was capped by an Edwards jumper to make the score 24-16 with 7:39 remaining in the half.
East Carolina began to heat up from beyond the arc, hitting two shots from range over the next two minutes to stretch its cushion to double digits at 33-19. The advantage grew to as much as 17 when Chareya Smith drained a free throw with 1:55 remaining and she would add the period’s exclamation mark, converting a layup with just seconds left on the clock to leave the home side’s margin at 43-24 heading into the break.
C. Smith paced the Pirates with 13 points in the first 20 minutes while Mial added 11. Smith and Tatiana Chapple also pulled down a team-best four rebounds apiece. ECU took great care of the basketball, committing just six turnovers while forcing Southern Miss into 11 miscues.
The Golden Eagles sliced into their deficit to begin the second stanza, scoring the first three points to pull within 43-29. However, Janesha Ebron answered with a jumper from the baseline and added a triple to push the cushion back to 19. Chapple then hit a free throw at the 15:57 mark to afford the Pirates their first 20-point lead of the evening.
The advantage hovered around 17-19 points until Tanecka Carey dropped in a three to make the score 56-41 with 8:44 showing on the clock, but Edwards stopped the run with a jumper in the paint. A Chapple layup gave East Carolina its largest lead of the night at 22 points (70-48) at the 3:12 mark and the Pirates cruised to the double-digit victory.
With the regular season now complete, ECU will wait its opponent for the first round of the 2012 Conference USA Women’s Basketball Championship. The full bracket is scheduled for release Saturday evening. The Pirates will be the event’s No. 11 seed and matchup with the sixth-seeded squad Wednesday, March 7, at the Elma Roane Fieldhouse of the campus of the University of Memphis.