The East Carolina University women’s basketball team closed out the regular season on Monday night with a 67-61 win against Southern Methodist University.
Monday night’s game was the last home game for the Pirates and a special night for four players as it was also senior night. The four seniors that were honored in Minges Coliseum were point guard Alex Frazier and forwards Destiny Campbell, Desiree Corbin and Salita Greene.
“It meant everything to me, just seeing them grow as people in general and you want them to succeed. They’re all leaders and I just appreciate all of their hard work and dedication to this program every single day,” acting head coach Nicole Mealing said per ecupirates.com.
The first quarter brought out a lot of offense from both teams. ECU (15-14, 6-10 AAC) and SMU (11-18, 5-11 AAC) were tied at 11-11 with three minutes to go in the first period. The Pirates came out of the first quarter with the four point lead, 19-15.
After a tight first quarter, ECU began to take control of the game in the second quarter. The Mustangs scored the first basket of the period, but went scoreless after that until there was 4:31 left in the period. ECU held a commanding 36-21 lead going into halftime, the largest halftime lead this ECU team has had this season.
The Pirates forced SMU to shoot 16.7 percent from the floor (2-for-12) in the second period. After the two teams were tied at 11, ECU finished the first half on a 25-10 run and scored the final eight points of the half.
Following the break, the Mustangs appeared to be nearly unstoppable. The Mustangs shot 10-for-12 (.833) in the quarter, knocking down a pair of three-pointers in the midst of that. For most of the quarter, ECU was able to respond to SMU’s hot shooting, as Frazier and sophomore guard Lashonda Monk each had steals that resulted into fastbreak layups on the other end of the court. A jump shot by junior guard Justice Gee with 1:17 left in the third had ECU go up by 12 points, 50-38. However, the Mustangs finished the quarter on a 7-0 run to go into the fourth only down five to the Pirates, 50-45.
In the fourth quarter, Campbell, Monk and Frazier took over to help ECU get the win in the end. The trio combined for 15 of the 17 points the Pirates scored in the final 10 minutes and 25 of the 31 points the team scored in the second half.
With less than five minutes left in the game, ECU led by only four points. Sophomore forward Tamia Hicks was found under the basket for a wide open layup that put the Pirates up 59-53. After an ECU stop, Campbell rolled to the hoop for another Pirate layup that increased the lead to eight, 61-53. SMU would not get closer than six points again until there was 29 seconds left in the game. Monk sealed the deal for the Pirates with two free throws to give ECU the 67-61 win on senior night.
“We’re definitely hitting our stride at the right point, two back-to-back wins going into the conference tournament, that’s great momentum from any team. This game meant a lot for us especially for us as seniors,” Frazier said per ecupirates.com.
ECU finished the game 25-of-58 (.431), the second straight game they shot more than 40 percent. The Pirates made a season-low one three-point field goal, but made up for it by shooting 16-of-20 (.800) from the free throw line as well as scoring 32 points in the paint and 16 points off turnovers.
Campbell, Frazier and Monk scored in double digits in Monday’s win. Monk led the way with 19 points while racking up five steals as well. Campbell finished with 17 points and five rebounds, while Frazier finished with 16 points and four rebounds.
“We really did finish strong,” Mealing said. “I think we got into a flow at the right time, we have the right people taking the shots and our percentages are going up.”
The Pirates will have a couple days off before heading off to Uncasville, Connecticut on Friday to begin their run in the American Athletic Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament entering as the #8 seed. ECU will be facing the Southern Methodist University Mustangs again in its first game in the first round of the tournament on Friday at 2 p.m. If the Pirates advance on Friday, they will play the No. 1 seed University of Connecticut on Saturday at 2 p.m.