Freshman guard/forward Ryann Evans against Houston - 2019/2020

Freshman Ryann Evans dribbles the basketball against the University of Houston on Saturday in Minges Coliseum.

The East Carolina University (5-17, 2-7 AAC) women’s basketball team took on the University of Houston (12-12, 5-5 AAC) on Saturday and was able to come out on top thanks to its strong defensive play.

It forced a lot of turnovers and kept the Cougars from scoring the easy buckets. Houston attempted a comeback at the end of the game, but the Pirates held on to win with a final score of 53-50 securing the second conference win this season for the team.

“From day one, I told you guys we were going to be a defensive-minded team,” head coach Kim McNeill said. “I feel like you can control your effort, and defense is all about effort because some nights the ball just might not go through.”

The first half was a battle for possession. Both teams were struggling to put the ball in the hoop to begin the game, but the Pirates forced turnover after turnover to gain control in the second quarter. Houston gave the ball up a total of 14 times in the first half which resulted in ECU to pull ahead by as much as seven early in the game. After the first half of play, the Pirates led 23-17 before finishing off the Cougars.

In the second half, a similar narrative continued as Houston seemed unable to hold the ball for a full possession. The Pirates were able to find their stride and capitalized on their opponent’s mistakes in the third, stretching the lead to as much 15 going into the fourth.

Houston fought back against the Pirates toward the end of the contest, making it a one possession game with less than a minute left on the clock. However, some mistakes from the Cougars and a game-saving block from sophomore forward Tiara Chambers, solidified the victory for ECU. Overall, ECU forced 29 turnovers to finish off the game.

On offense, the Pirates had four players score in double figures. Junior guard Lashonda Monk, redshirt junior guard Dominique Claytor, and freshman guard Ryann Evans all finished with 12 points. Claytor also added nine rebounds while Evans grabbed seven boards as well. Freshman guard Taniyah Thompson also had 11 points for her team.

Houston was led by senior forward Dorian Branch, who finished with 22 points. Sophomore forward Tatyana Hill earned herself a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds.

On Tuesday, the Pirates will head to Dallas, Texas to take on Southern Methodist University (9-13, 3-7 AAC). Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m.

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