East Carolina battles past Presbyterian, 54-46

GREENVILLE, N.C. – East Carolina held Presbyterian to 28-percent shooting Monday evening on the way to a 54-46 non-conference victory inside Minges Coliseum. ECU improved to 5-0 all-time against the Blue Hose, including a 4-0 ledger against Presbyterian in Greenville.

Team Records: East Carolina: 6-2 | Presbyterian: 0-6

The Pirates have won three of their last four and have built a 6-2 start to the year for the third-straight season.

Graduate forward Kristen Gaffney scored a game-high 18 points on 9-for-12 shooting to go along with eight rebounds. She has now made 63 field goals this campaign, a top-five mark in the nation, as well as improved her field goal percentage to an American Athletic Conference-best 63 percent. Redshirt junior forward Gabrielle Holston pitched in with eight points, five rebounds, four assists, a block and a steal in 23 minutes of work.

Janie Miles paced the Blue Hose with a double-double of 15 points and 11 rebounds.

ECU drained 22 of its 47 attempts from the field to finish at 47 percent while the Blue Hose were limited to just 15 made shots out of 54 attempted. The Pirates ended up with a 34-33 edge on the glass, including a 25-19 advantage in defensive rebounds. Additionally, East Carolina notched 18 assists and five blocked shots.

Head Coach Heather Macy
“Anyway you can win, you want to win whether you win one pretty or ugly. Tonight we had to gut one out. Obviously I’m really pleased with the final result.”

“I don’t think it was anything I said, but I think Alex Frazier came in with a different urgency level. Her play on the defensive end and the way she commanded the offense changed the game. I am very proud of her and the way she stepped up was big time.”

“There is a focus that we would like for (Gaffney) to touch the ball every single possession. She got the 12 shots and a lot of the times it was when the defense was not set. I think the guards did a good job finding her in transition. To be honest, she got the nine for 12 pretty easily. I am so thankful that she is playing for us and to be playing that efficiently. She is a tremendous player.”

Gaffney On Halftime Adjustments
“Coming out of halftime, I think the scoring difference in the third quarter was 17 to 8. In the second half, especially after talking, we came out and made the extra pass, we dived, cut and moved on the perimeter. That just opened a lot of things inside for me and allowed us to go inside-out.”

First Quarter
Holston started the scoring with a layup just 42 seconds into the contest before Kaycie Reffner answered with a three-pointer to give the Blue Hose its first lead. East Carolina held a slight 9-8 advantage following a Fanni Csutoras triple at the 2:30 mark, but Presbyterian netted six of the last 10 points of the period to take a one-point edge into the second quarter.

Second Quarter
The defensive struggle continued into the second stanza as both teams mustered just two points apiece in the first 5:31. Miles nailed a triple with 4:29 to go before the half to give the Blue Hose a 19-15 lead, but Gaffney sparked a 7-3 run for ECU that knotted the score at 22 with the clock showing 1:29. Presbyterian scored the next five points, however, on the Pirates’ final possession, Toure hit a nice floater in the lane as time expired to leave the visitors with a 27-24 cushion.

Third Quarter
East Carolina turned up the defensive pressure as the second half began, taking a 30-29 lead on a Holston jumper early in the period. The Pirates got out in transition over the next few minutes and eventually started to pull ahead. A Gaffney layup at the 3:07 mark saw ECU build its largest advantage of the evening to that point, 39-31, before Kacie Hall halted the run with a layup that sliced the Pirate lead back to six. The teams traded layups to end the quarter as East Carolina carried a 41-35 edge into the final frame.

Fourth Quarter
A pair of free throws by Hall shrunk the ECU lead back to four, but Gaffney came through again with a layup not a minute later to make the score 43-37. A jumper by freshman guard Dominique Claytor off an assist by redshirt senior guard Antoinette Bannister pushed the margin back to eight, but the Blue Hose netted the next four points to pull within 45-41 with 4:32 left in regulation. The Pirates were able to hold on in the end, stretching their lead all the way to 10 points before claiming the eight-point margin of victory.

Up Next
East Carolina plays its first true road game of the season Thursday night at Charlotte. The Pirates and 49ers will tip off at 7 p.m. inside Halton Arena.