Johnson, Williams help ECU women's basketball top South Carolina State, 71-63

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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (ECU) – In the final game of the Carolinas Challenge, the ECU women’s basketball team used a defensive second-half to push past South Carolina State 71-63 on Friday night in the Myrtle Beach Convention Center.

“I’m really proud of the girls,” said head coach Chad Killinger. “It was a good trip in terms of being able to get off campus and play some games and spend some time together. We had different kids step up in both games we played here. For us to keep winning, we’re going to have to have different people step up. That’s kind of been the mode of operations for this team. You’re never quite sure, from an individual standpoint, who’s going to have a good game or who might exceed expectations a little bit. We’ve had several girls have career-highs on different nights, whether it be from a rebounding standpoint or a scoring standpoint. Just really proud of the girls and the staff and everybody that’s fighting along with us.”

ECU (9-2) held a slim lead on two occasions in the fourth quarter, but responded each time. The first came when ECU led 60-56 after six straight South Carolina State (6-7) points. Necole Hope picked the Pirates up with a three-pointer from the top of the key. Minutes later, the ECU lead had shrunk to 63-62 with under 1:30 remaining. Lashonda Monk found Ariyana Williams cutting backdoor for a layup and then Salita Greene took a charge at the other end. Four straight free throws, two by Williams and two by Monk helped the Pirates pull away for the win.

The Pirates broke out of a shooting slump, hitting eight shots from behind the three-point arc. It is the second-highest three-point total since the Pirates hit nine against Maryland Eastern Shore in the season-opener.

The Pirates had three players score in double-digits and each had a quarter that they dominated. Williams had her best game of the season, making her first four shots from behind the arc, including three in the first quarter, and finished with 18 points. In the second, Raven Johnson tallied seven of her game-high 19 points.

Also reaching double figures was Hope, who finished with 10 points. Hope hit a pair of runners and followed with a three for a 7-point run of her own in the third quarter.

ECU forced 26 South Carolina State turnovers and scored 27 points off them. After winning the rebounding battle twice in a row, ECU was beaten on the glass 45-39. Greene and Johnson were the leading rebounders for ECU, hauling in seven boards each.

Taylor Brown led the way for South Carolina State, finishing with a double-double on 17 points and 14 rebounds. Kemoni Jenkins and Rhein Beamon both finished with 13 points each.

ECU will have a week between games before finishing its nonconference slate. The Pirates head to Duke for a 7 p.m., game on Dec. 28, before hosting UNC Wilmington on Dec. 30.