ECU women's basketball finishes road swing with loss at Liberty

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LYNCHBURG, VA. (ECU) – A sluggish third quarter cost the ECU women’s basketball team as the Pirates fell to Liberty 81-66 on Tuesday night in the Vines Center.

ECU falls to 3-6 on the season while Liberty improves to a 3-6 mark as well.

The Pirates have four different players score at least 10 points, led by Taniyah Thompson’s 13. Lashonda Monk and Necole Hope each had 12 points while Ryann Evans finished with 11. Dominique Claytor led ECU with six rebounds while Monk had a team-high three assists. Monk and Evans each had five steals while Thompson grabbed four steals.

Liberty was led in scoring by Emily Lytle, who finished with 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting. The Flames also had four players in double-figures, as Bridgette Rettstatt (16), Keyen Green (12) and Mya McMillian (10) joined Lytle. McMillian had eight rebounds while Ashtyn Baker had seven assists. The Flames held a 35-20 edge on the boards and a 15-6 edge in second-chance points.

Each team had a scoring run in the first quarter. The Pirates came out firing, making their first six shots to take a 13-6 lead halfway through the opening stanza. Liberty answered by closing out the period on a 13-2 run of its own, powered by six points from Rettstatt. That gave the Flames a 19-15 advantage after the first quarter.

ECU bounced back in the second, including a 7-0 run that featured five points from Katerina Tsineke. That put ECU back in front, but the teams traded the lead three more times, before a Claytor jumper gave ECU a 40-37 lead heading into the break.

The halftime lead evaporated quickly, with the Flames making their first nine shots of the second half. Only ECU forcing six turnovers prevented Liberty from stretching the lead even further. Liberty ended up going on a 21-5 run over the first seven minutes of the quarter, as Hope scored four points to keep ECU afloat. A 6-2 ECU run to finish the third, with field goals from both Claytor and Thompson, made it 61-51 heading into the fourth.

The Pirates’ best chance to get back into the game came midway through the fourth. Trailing by 13, Thompson made a layup before Monk and Tsineke made back-to-back jumpers. After Liberty answered through a Lytle jumper, Evans cashed in a three-pointer from the left wing, making the score 72-66 with 3:47 remaining.

However just when the momentum seemed to be swinging ECU’s way, the Flames came out of the timeout and hit a corner three to restore the nine-point lead. ECU never got closer as the Flames scored the game’s final nine points.

The Pirates finished 26-of-53 (.491) from the floor, 3-of-10 (.333) from three and 11-of-15 (.733) from the charity stripe. Liberty shot 32-of-56 (.571) from the field, 6-of-18 (.333) from beyond the arc and 11-of-16 (.688) from the free throw line. The Pirates finished with 19 steals and eight assists while the Flames had 24 assists and eight steals.

ECU will have nearly two weeks off before returning to action. The Pirates will host Howard on Monday, December 16.

ECU Notes

All seven players scored for the Pirates, including the four players in double-figures. It is the first time this season four different ECU players have scored at least 10 points in the same contest.

The 31 Liberty turnovers and the 25 ECU turnovers were both season-highs.

Evans’ five steals are a career-high and she also hit her first career three-pointer.

Monk did not make at least one three-pointer for the first time in seven games while Tsineke made one for the fourth straight game.

ECU Quotes

Head Coach Kim McNeill on the game: “I’m really proud of the young ladies’ effort tonight. I felt we fought hard and played hard. We just had some key mistakes, turning the ball over too much. Wish we could get the first two minutes back of the third quarter. Third quarters are killing us, so we’ve got to find a way to change it.”