Despite a late 12-2 rally by East Carolina, Winthrop held on for the 66-61 victory over the Lady Pirates Friday evening at Minges Coliseum in the first game of the sixth annual Lady Pirate Invitational. ECU falls to 1-4 on the year while the Lady Eagles improve to 4-2.
Winthrop opened up an early 5-0 lead behind a lay-up and three-pointer made by Ashley Haugtvedt. The Lady Eagles held the lead until mid-way through the half when a three-point play by Tiahana Bowens put ECU up 11-9. Shelly Hankins answered right back with a three-point play of her own as she went to the basket, got bumped along the way and tied the game. She sank the free throw for a 12-11 lead. The two teams traded baskets again as LaCoya Terry followed with a jumper, to put the Lady Pirates up 13-12. With the score tied at 18-18, Winthrop ended the half on a 9-5 run behind two three-point baskets from Tiffany Rodd to take the 27-23 lead into the break.
The second half was all Winthrop, as they put together a 14-4 run to extend its lead to 20, at 50-30, with 10:25 to play. Sparked by two Jasmine Young three-pointers, the Lady Pirates went on a 13-2 spurt, cutting the Winthrop lead down to 13, 58-45, with 5:50 on the clock. Three free throws by Terry and Bowens putback with 2:00 to play pulled East Carolina within nine, 62-53. Shuanda Ashford connected on a three-pointer with just over a minute to play to cut the Lady Eagle lead down to six. After a Jessica Fansler free throw, it was Young who hit another three, pulling ECU within four, 64-60, with 46.5 seconds to play. Winthrop hit a jumper with 42.1 seconds left to extend its lead to six. A three-pointer by Young with 19 seconds to play fell short. A late free throw by Bowens made the final score 66-61 in favor of the Lady Eagles.
Young led all scorers with 17 points, including five three-pointers. Terry added 15 points, going 8-for-11 from the charity stripe. She also had a team high six rebounds. ECU shot an ice-cold 29.2 percent on the night while Winthrop shot 41.2 from the field.
The loss marks the first time that ECU will not play in the championship contest, as they will face the loser of the Jacksonville/UMass game at 6:00 p.m. Saturday evening.