MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. – Whitny Edwards scored a team-high 15 points and the Pirates forced the Tar Heels into 23 turnovers, but East Carolina was unable to overcome a second half offensive surge from No. 17 North Carolina as ECU dropped a 76-67 decision to UNC at the Beach Ball Classic on Wednesday night.
The Pirates (8-3) out-shot the Tar Heels (11-1) 43.8-percent to 41.4 in the first half as the in-state rivals battled each other for point-for-point. The first half featured eight ties and three lead changes as the largest margin was a five-point lead (26-21) by UNC with 5:51 left in the half.
Celeste Stewart was on target for the Pirates as the senior point guard shot 50-percent from the field and led the team with seven points in the frame. She added three assists and a steal in the half, while recording two rebounds. Ariana Jackson came off the bench and also posted seven points, while Janesha Ebron tallied six and Kyani White notched five.
East Carolina forced the Tar Heels into 12 turnovers in the first half, while collecting seven steals. The Pirates edged UNC 32-31 at halftime as both teams headed to the locker room.
North Carolina came out of the break in action with its momentum surging and quickly took a six-point lead (40-34). The early part of the second half was a battle, but the Tar Heels took advantage of ECU fouls and took a 57-47 lead at the 7:37 mark after making five of their six free throws.
The Pirates refused to quit and East Carolina fought back and cut the Tar Heels’ lead to two (69-67) with just 1:52 left in the contest. With the game within reach for ECU, North Carolina’s Krista Gross tallied a layup followed by a Tierra Ruffin-Pratt trey to give UNC a seven-point advantage, 74-67, with just 41 seconds remaining. East Carolina eventually fell to North Carolina, 76-67.
Whitny Edwards finished the contest with 15 points, five rebounds and one assist, while Britny Edwards added 12 points and six boards. Stewart concluded the game with 10 points, five assists, four steals and three rebounds.
UNC was led by Ruffin-Pratt who led all scorers with 24 points. She also added four steals, three blocks, a trio of assists and as many rebounds. Gross was North Carolina’s only other scorer to reach double-figures as she tallied a double-double with 10 points and as many boards to go along with three assists, one block and a steal.