GREENVILLE, N.C. (ECU) – A dominant fourth quarter helped the ECU women’s basketball team pull away to a 63-53 win over USC Upstate on Sunday afternoon in Minges Coliseum.
Dueling First Quarter Runs
In the first quarter, both ECU went on scoring runs. The Pirates opened the game strong, scoring 15 of the game’s first 17 points. The Pirates used their size advantage to get into the paint and attack the glass. ECU had a 10-0 edge in points in the paint in the opening period and held a rebounding advantage of 15-9, including 5-0 on the offensive glass. USC Upstate battled back with shots from the perimeter, closing the first on a 9-0 run, all on three-pointers.
Listless Second Quarter
ECU could not get anything going offensively in the second quarter. The Pirates shot just 3-of-18 (.167) in the quarter and missed all seven shots from behind the arc. USC Upstate on the other hand, began to find its rhythm and scored eight points in the paint, and closed the ECU lead to just 23-22 heading into halftime.
Getting to the Free Throw Line
Although ECU had just three field goals in the second straight period, the difference in the third quarter was ECU’s ability to get to the free throw line. The two teams went back and forth in the third, as USC Upstate led for the first time and held that lead for the majority of the quarter. ECU shot just 3-of-10 from the field, but went 9-of-13 from the free throw line in the third. Lashonda Monk made three from the charity stripe, while Ariyana Williams and Salita Greene made two apiece. With less than a second remaining in the third, Destiny Campbell blocked a Spartan shot and then was immediately fouled. Campbell made one of two free throws to tie the game at 38 heading into the final frame.
“Well, it just felt like we got a group together that was playing with more energy,” said interim head coach Chad Killinger. “We were able to get some more rebounds and get out in transition. We were moving the ball a little bit better, getting the ball inside. The second quarter, we just got a little jump shot happy. A lot of our shots were from the perimeter. Obviously, we weren't shooting the ball very well from the perimeter today. We had two free throw attempts in the first half and we talked about how one of our goals is to have more than 22 free throw attempts per game. Today we had 23 so we had 21 in the second half alone. We did a lot better job of attacking the basket, getting the ball to the paint whether it was off penetration or transition or offensive rebounds.”
Greene Takes Over
With the score tied heading into the fourth quarter, ECU’s offense came to life. The Pirates opened the quarter on a 13-3 run to take a commanding 51-41 lead with 5:21 remaining. The run consisted of six points from Greene as well as a three-pointer by Raven Johnson, a Destiny Campbell jumper and a fastbreak layup from Alex Frazier. USC Upstate threatened to come back on two occasions. First, the Spartans narrowed the score to 51-45, but Campbell answered with a jumper off a pass from Greene, and then Frazier stole a Spartan pass and buried a jumper. The Spartans once again got within six when it was 57-51 with 1:09 left, but Greene calmly canned a jumper on the next possession and after a Spartan free throw, added another jumper to regain the ECU cushion. In the fourth quarter, Greene finished with 12 points, four rebounds and an assist.
“I felt like we had a void that I had to fill,” Greene said. “We were shooting a lot of jump shots and I knew that we needed to attack the basket more so I just tried to focus offensively on making sure I attacked the gaps.”
Inside the Box Score
Greene and Campbell both just missed recording double-doubles. Greene had a team-high 18 points (tying her career-high) and nine rebounds, while Campbell had nine points and a career-high 11 rebounds…ECU is now 8-0 all-time when Greene reaches double-figures in scoring…Monk was the only other Pirate in double-figures, adding 11 points, the sixth time this season she has scored at least 10 points…ECU pulled down a season-high 52 rebounds, the most since grabbing 53 rebounds against Maryland Eastern Shore on Dec. 28, 2017…With a 52-44 edge in rebounding, ECU outrebounded its opponent for just the second time this season.
Brianna Lewis led the Spartans in scoring, adding 18 points in 40 minutes of action…Riley Popplewell was the only other Spartan in double figures, scoring 12 points to go along with 15 rebounds…DeNisha Swain added 12 rebounds and six assists for the Spartans. USC Upstate won the turnover battle against ECU, turning the ball over 15 times to ECU’s 16 turnovers, becoming the first team this season to do so.
ECU will play its first neutral site game of the year at the Beach Ball Classic. The Pirates take on Longwood on Wednesday evening at 6:30 p.m., in the tournament.