GREENVILLE, N.C. (ECU) – In wire-to-wire fashion, the ECU women’s basketball team held on to beat Tulane 63-61 on Saturday night inside Minges Coliseum.
“Just going into this game, we were really disappointed in our play the past couple of games,” said acting head coach Nicole Mealing. “We knew what needed we needed to do in order to win a game and we knew we were capable. We’re not a last place team in this conference, and everyone is on the same page with that. We hit a lot of different people contributing tonight, like rebounding and points wise, so I’m very proud with their effort.”
The win snapped a five-game losing streak for ECU (11-10, 2-6 AAC) as well as moving the Pirates’ home record to 9-3 on the year. ECU never trailed in the game and had four players score at least 10 points, led by Alex Frazier’s 19. The Pirates finished 23-of-61 (.377) from the field and 4-of-10 (.400) from three-point range. After getting outrebounded by 20 the first time these two teams met, ECU controlled the glass Saturday to the tune of a 46-33 advantage, including holding Tulane to just 10 offensive rebounds.
Tulane (14-7, 4-4 AAC) was led by Krystal Freeman’s second double-double of the season against ECU, with the sophomore finishing with 22 points and 12 rebounds. The Green Wave shot 22-of-57 (.386) from the floor and just 3-of-15 (.200) from deep.
The first time the two squads met, Tulane ran out to an early 11-0 lead. On Saturday, nearly that same scenario occurred in reverse, mainly thanks to the hot shooting of Ariyana Williams. The sophomore guard, who had hit five threes against Tulane, continued to torment the Green Wave by canning triples on her first four attempts, including three before Tulane scored. ECU held leads of 10-0 and 13-2 in the early going.
The first quarter may have been a blowout if not for the effort of Freeman. She scored 14 of Tulane’s 16 points in the frame. On the other side, Frazier and Salita Greene each scored four points with Destiny Campbell adding a jumper to keep Tulane at bay.
In the second quarter, the ECU defense began to lockdown the Green Wave. Tulane scored just six points and two field goals in the quarter. At halftime, ECU led 33-22, as ECU shot 14-of-30 (.467) and 4-of-8 (.500) from three in the first half.
In the third quarter, neither team could go on a meaningful run. Frazier and Freeman dueled each other as they led their respective squads, with Frazier scoring five points and Freeman scoring seven in the frame. When the dust settled at the end of the third, ECU held a comfortable 47-35 advantage.
For most of the fourth quarter, Tulane chipped away at ECU’s lead, although the Pirates mostly had answers. Five Tulane points to start were met with consecutive jumpers by Greene and Frazier. That jumper by Frazier was the first of three straight field goals for the senior, all three of which came after Tulane baskets. In the first eight and a half minutes of the quarter, Tulane outscored ECU 16-12, as Greene and Frazier had all 12 ECU points.
With 1:30 left and ECU leading 59-51, Tulane caught fire. Three straight ECU turnovers led to six Tulane points and suddenly the lead was just two.
ECU regrouped with a timeout and were finally able to get a shot off. It turned out to be a good one, as Campbell nailed a jumper from the foul line extended to restore some calm. Lashonda Monk followed it with a steal and was fouled, making one freee throw.
Tulane had one final run left. Dynah Jones got into the paint for a layup and then ECU could not connect on a three. Jones was fouled once again, hitting both free throws to shrink the lead to one. Another ECU turnover gave Tulane a shot at the lead with under 20 seconds left. Luckily for the Pirates, the Tulane three was off the mark and Monk sealed the win with one more free throw.
Along with Frazier, Williams (13 points), Greene (12) and Campbell (10) all scored in double figures. Greene led ECU with nine rebounds, although all nine Pirates that saw action pulled in at least one board. Monk and Justice Gee both helped ECU share the ball, finishing with four and three assists respectively. Finally, Gee and Campbell both swatted two shots apiece, a career-high for Gee.
ECU will face its first ranked test of the season on Wednesday night as the Pirates travel to No. 2 UConn. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m., in the XL Center.