MONROE, La. – Redshirt sophomore forward Jada Payne recorded a game-high 30 points in East Carolina’s 86-76 loss to Grand Canyon in the championship game of the ULM Warhawk Classic. The setback marked the first loss of the season for the Pirates as they fell to 8-1 on the year, while the Antelopes improved to 9-2.
Payne tallied her second 30-point performance of the year shooting 45.0-percent from the floor as she went 9-for-20. She also led the squad in rebounds with seven boards, while adding two assists and a pair of steals. Junior forward Shae Nelson and junior guard Abria Trice also notched double-figure efforts as they registered 11 and 10 points, respectively. Junior guard Janesha Ebron tied her career-high with nine assists to go along with three rebounds and one steal.
Grand Canyon out-shot East Carolina 43.2-percent to 41.8-percent, but the Pirates held the edge in rebounds (33-30) and assists (14-8). The Pirates committed 38 personal fouls which led to 55 free throw attempts for the Antelopes. Grand Canyon managed to tally 44 points on free throws, while the Pirates notched 14 on 20 free throw attempts after the Antelopes fouled them 18 times.
The Pirates got on the scoreboard first on a three-pointer from Payne, but the Antelopes went on an 8-2 run to take a 12-8 advantage. East Carolina managed to take a four-point lead (20-16) on a trey from senior forward Kristine Mial at 10:47, but the Antelopes fought back and took a 25-24 lead on four made free throws by Kaitlyn Petersen after a foul by Ebron followed by a technical foul called on the ECU bench at 7:37. After that, the Antelopes never looked back as they held the led for the remainder of the game taking a three-point lead (35-32) into the locker room at the half.
Although East Carolina out-shot the Antelopes in the second frame, 45.7-percent to 40.9-percent, Grand Canyon managed to outscore the Pirates, 51-44 in the half. The Antelopes led by as many as 14 (61-49) at 7:58 in the second half after Judy Jones tallied a layup. The Pirates battled, but were unable to come any closer six (66-60) after Payne drained a trey at 3:23. The Antelopes pushed their lead back up to double-figures a number of times in the final minutes of action and eventually won the game by a score of 86-76.
Grand Canyon had five players record double-figures in Petersen (21 points), Justine Johnson (19 points), Deanna Daniels (18 points), Jones (11 points), and Johnna Brown (10 points). Jones was the Antelopes’ leading rebounder as she tallied seven boards, while Brown dished out five assists and three steals.
The Pirates look to get back on the winning track on Tuesday, December 17, when they travel to Norfolk, Va., to take on Norfolk State in a non-conference contest. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m.