GREENVILLE, N.C. – The East Carolina women’s basketball team used the last three minutes of the game to go on a 10-0 run and hold off Conference USA foe Tulsa, 69-63, in an exciting back-and-forth affair on Sunday afternoon at Minges Coliseum.
Senior point guard Celeste Stewart drained a three-point field goal with 2:43 left in the game to cut Tulsa’s (6-11, 1-3 C-USA) lead to one, 63-62. That seemed to be the turning point in a game that saw 12 ties and 21 lead changes as ECU’s (12-5, 2-2 C-USA) defense kicked up a notch and garnered a stop while Janesha Ebron grabbed the defensive rebound and handed it off to Tatiana Chapple who ran it back for a layup to give the Pirates’ a 64-63 lead. That would be all ECU would need as the defense continued to turn back Tulsa, forcing the Golden Hurricane to foul in order to get the ball back. The Pirates finished the game making 5-of-6 free throws to earn a 69-63 victory.
Stewart finished the game with 14 points, seven assists, three rebounds and a steal, while junior Kristine Mial also chipped in 14 points and added five boards, and an assist. Whitny Edwards contributed nine points, eight rebounds, three steals and an assist, while Britny Edwards concluded the game with eight points, six boards, two blocks and a pair of assists. Chapple had an eight-point, two-steal, one-rebound performance, and Kyani White added six points with two assists. Ebron came off the bench and posted six points with two boards, a pair of steals and as many assists for the Pirates.
Tulsa got on the board first as Kelsee Grovey started the game with a jumper. The Pirates quickly countered on a jumper from White, and thus began the back-and-forth contest. The first half saw eight ties while both squads led by as many as four. By halftime, East Carolina held a one-point (35-34) advantage on Tulsa as both teams headed to their respective locker rooms.
The second half saw much of the same, as the two squads traded points and matched each other on each side of the court. Tulsa took its largest lead, a five-point advantage, after Tiffani Couisnard’s layup put the Golden Hurricane up 42-37 at 16:59. The Pirates would not go away easily as they turned the five-point deficit into a one-point lead (45-44) after three consecutive jumpers from Mial, Stewart, and Whitny Edwards.
With 4:55 remaining in the contest, Britny Edwards hit both of her free throws to give the Pirates a 55-54 advantage. The lead, however, was short-lived as Tulsa took a one-point edge in the next 15 seconds. The two teams match each other with a bucket at every possession until Tulsa’s Kadan Brady hit a three, followed by a layup from Taleya Mayberry to give the Golden Hurricane a four-point advantage. It was then that ECU Head Coach Heather Macy called for a timeout and the Pirate team that returned to the court looked determined to get the win.
Following the break in action, Stewart hit her momentum-changing three, and the defense held the Tulsa offense scoreless for the remainder of the game as the Pirates went onto collect their 12th win of the season – matching their win total from a year ago.
The Golden Hurricane was led by Brady who finished the game with a game-high 16 points. Mayberry concluded the contest with a double-double as she tallied 14 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists. Grovey was Tulsa’s third scorer in double figures with 10.
East Carolina’s next action will take place in New Orleans, La., when the Pirates take on Tulsa on Sunday, January 27, at 3 p.m. (ET).