GREENVILLE, N.C. – Shae Nelson drained a three-point field goal with 2:43 remaining in the game to spark a 9-0 East Carolina run as the Pirates defeated Charlotte, 71-62, on Saturday night at Williams Arena inside Minges Coliseum. The victory marked ECU’s first over the 49ers since 2009.
With the win, the Pirates improve to 18-3 overall and 6-2 in Conference USA and have now won 25 straight home contests. Charlotte falls to 10-10 on the year and 4-3 in league action.
Nelson tied her career-high with 17 points to go along with three rebounds and one block. The junior forward shot 58.3-percent from the field after connecting on 7-of-12 shots. Redshirt junior forward Abria Trice led all scorers with 21 points to tally her eighth 20-point performance of the season. Trice also added eight boards, one block and one steal. Redshirt sophomore forward Jada Payne rounded out the Pirates’ double-figure scorers with 11 points, while contributing three steals, two assists and one rebound. Redshirt junior post Ondrea Shaw collected a game-high 11 rebounds while adding a game-best six blocks, four assists and as many points. Shaw now has tallied 66 blocks on the year to move into second place in the ECU single-season record book.
Payne put the Pirates on the board first as she connected on a jumper. However, East Carolina’s lead would not last long as Charlotte quickly evened the score. The Pirates pushed their lead back up to four (8-4), but the 49ers countered and took a three-point lead (11-8) of their own at the 12-minute mark. East Carolina led by as many as six (21-15) in the first half after a jumper off the hands of Trice, but Charlotte chipped away at the Pirates’ lead and took a 30-27 advantage into the locker room at halftime.
Down three to start the second half, East Carolina rattled off seven consecutive points to take a 34-30 lead. Despite the Pirates’ quick start, Charlotte used a 9-0 run to regain its lead as the 49ers went up 45-38 with 11:51 on the clock to force ECU to call for a timeout. The Pirates battled back to even the score at 46-46, but Charlotte again surged ahead as the 49ers took a 51-46 advantage. Trice got the Pirates back in the game after knocking down a pair of layups and a free throw to tie it up (54-54) with 6:07 left to play. Payne followed giving ECU a 56-55 lead on a layup at 4:46. After Charlotte regained the lead, Nelson drained a three to put East Carolina up 63-61 at 2:43 to spark a 9-0 run that gave ECU a 69-61 advantage with less than one minute remaining in the game. The Pirates closed the contest on an 11-1 run to capture the contest by a final score of 71-62.
The contest saw the in-state rivals battle through eight ties and 12 lead changes as East Carolina shot 49.2-percent from the field. Charlotte was limited by the ECU defense to just 7.1-percent shooting from beyond the arc as the 49ers went 1-for-14. ECU finished the game with 41 rebounds, 11 assists, eight blocks, and as many steals.
Charlotte had a pair of double-figure scorers in Kira Gordon (15 points) and Ciara Gregory (14 points). Gregory added eight rebounds to tie for the team lead with Ayanna Holmes.
East Carolina will hit the road as the Pirates will travel to Huntington, W.Va., on Wednesday February 5, to take on Marshall at 7 p.m.