GREENVILLE, N.C. (ECU) – In the opening game of the season, the ECU women’s basketball team pulled away from Maryland Eastern Shore in the second half to win 84-69 on Tuesday night in Williams Arena inside Minges Coliseum.
After a back and forth first half, the Pirates found themselves trailing 43-41 just over halfway through the third quarter. ECU turned that deficit into a 60-50 advantage heading into the fourth quarter with a 19-7 run. Raven Johnson led the way in that span, scoring nine of the 19 ECU points, with Salita Greene adding five points of her own. ECU never let it’s advantage sink below eight points after that and outscored the Hawks 24-19 in the fourth quarter.
“We changed defenses in the second half and it’s a defense we haven’t worked on a whole lot, but it’s something I feel we could be effective with our length & athleticism,” said interim head coach Chad Killinger.
“I think that threw them off a little bit, I think that really created a situation where we got some easy scores. Raven was able to get out and run with Lashonda (Monk) and Justice (Gee). They put us in a situation where we got some easy baskets so we weren’t having to work so hard just to get shots.”
Good From Behind the Arc
ECU finished the game shooting 9-of-18 from behind the three-point arc. Johnson finished 4-of-5 while Jade Lewis made four of her seven attempts. Lewis had a stretch in the second quarter where she made triples on three consecutive possessions for a personal 9-0 run. The nine made three-pointers are the most ECU has made since sinking 10 against Savannah State on Dec. 20, 2017 and it is also the best percentage the Pirates have hit from three since making 10-of-18 in that win.
“It makes everything a lot easier when you’re shooting the ball like that collectively,” Johnson said. “It stretches out the defense and opens up the lane for our post players, who also did a lot of work in the paint.”
Inside The Box Score
Johnson and Lashonda Monk led the team with 19 points each. It is the second straight year Johnson has led the team in scoring in the season opener after she poured in a career-high 21 against USC-Upstate last year…Lewis finished with 16 of her own, the most for an ECU player in their debut since Kristen Gaffney scored 23 against Greensboro in the 2016 opener…Nine Pirates finished with at least two points and the ECU bench contributed 35 points on the night…Destiny Campbell led the team with seven rebounds and Greene added six boards…Desiree Corbin led ECU with a pair of blocks while Monk had a team-high five assists...Sophomore Tamia Hicks set new career-highs in both minutes (18) and points (six).
Keyara Eaton led Maryland Eastern Shore with 20 points in the defeat, while Ciani Byrom added 19 of her own. The Hawks won the rebounding battle 44-39, but struggled beyond the arc, shooting just 7-of-30 from long range.
News and Notes
ECU improves to 28-22 in season-openers and 17-2 when the first game of the season is played in Greenville.
Killinger becomes the fourth Pirate head coach to win on their debut, joining Catherine Bolton (1970), Pat Pierson (1987) and Dee Stokes (1998).
ECU is now 4-0 all-time against UMES and has beaten the Hawks in three straight seasons.
ECU continues its season-opening five game home stand against Monmouth on Friday night. Tipoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m., inside Minges Coliseum.