The East Carolina women’s basketball team failed to snap its losing streak against the same team that started it, losing to the Temple Owls, 76-43 in Minges Coliseum Saturday night during the breast cancer awareness game.
“Thank you to all of those guys for bringing our community out, bringing awareness to such an important cause,” head coach Heather Macy said. “As we fight to find a cure for cancer, thanks to everybody who was a part of that in spirit.”
Even though every Pirate got on the scoreboard, Saturday was the second fewest points the team scored all season. Only Kristen Gaffney reached double-figures (11 points) and it was a tough shooting night overall. Out of the 61 shots the team put up, only 16 went through the net for a total of 26 percent.
“When everybody scores and it’s just like three points, it’s not going to equal a whole bunch of points,” Macy said. “They’re a very good defensive team, really aggressive, and I didn’t think that we responded well with the pressure.”
Temple (19-5, 9-2 American Athletic Conference) had a much more successful night from the field. Both teams attempted the same number of shots, but the Owls made 30 of their shots, shooting at almost 50 percent. Player-of-the-Year candidate Feyonda Fitzgerald scored a game-high 21 points, while adding six rebounds and four assists.
The difference in the game wasn’t just ECU’s 18 turnovers, which seems to be a constant theme, but how many points it turned into for Temple. Temple’s 35 points off turnovers was almost enough to beat the Pirates alone, and certainly changed the game.
“[We have to] value the ball. You can’t shoot it when you turn the ball over,” Macy said.
ECU (10-15, 1-11 AAC) started quickly, grabbing a 4-2 lead in the opening minutes but squandered it due to its poor shooting. Owl guard Donnaizha Fountain took over in the first quarter, scoring eight of her 19 points in the quarter. Temple closed the quarter on a 17-3 run and found itself with a comfortable 23-9 lead.
The second quarter was virtually identical to the first. The Owls hit 3-pointers, forced turnovers and continued to cushion their lead. The brightest spot for the Pirates in the first half was the play of Justice Gee. Only a freshman, Gee’s minutes continue to grow because of the immediate energy she brings to the game with her quickness and defense.
“Justice keeps getting better,” Macy said. “It’s what they’re doing in practice that’s earning equity with me. I love how she competes.”
Coming out of halftime, ECU played much more aggressive defense and held Temple to just 11 points in the third quarter. Despite a 6-0 run, the Pirates failed to take advantage of their stellar defense, scoring just two more points than the Owls. ECU made two shots from the field all quarter but cashed in from the free throw line, where nine of the 13 points in the quarter came from.
ECU couldn’t carry its defense over to the final quarter and allowed Temple to run away with the quarter, and ultimately the game. A last second layup by Gee saved the Pirates from scoring the least amount of points all season.
With only four games remaining on the schedule the Pirates are will not finish the season with a winning record, however, only three wins separate ECU from the eighth seed in the American Conference.
Up next for the Pirates is a trip to take on Memphis Wednesday. ECU has yet to win a conference road game but will have three more cracks at it. The following Wednesday will be the final game in Minges Coliseum this season, when Cincinnati visits Greenville for ECU’s Senior Night.