The East Carolina women’s basketball team won a tightly-contested game against Detroit-Mercy, 83-81 in overtime Sunday, after hitting a 3-point shot to tie the game with 10 seconds left.
The Pirates, who played from behind for most of the game, were carried offensively by forward Kristen Gaffney — the leading scorer from Friday's Greensboro victory. Gaffney, a graduate student, did most of her work in the paint, finishing with a career-high 32 points and eight rebounds.
Gaffney sat out the first five minutes of the fourth period due to foul trouble but didn’t skip a beat when she came back in, hitting two big shots in the final minutes of the fourth and scoring six points in overtime.
“I had to center myself, stay disciplined in what I was doing, stay disciplined to the game plan,” Gaffney said.
Redshirt senior guard Antoinette Bannister was a big contributor as well with 15 points, sinking a 3-pointer to give the Pirates their first lead of the game late in the third quarter, as well as the shot that sent the game to overtime.
“I try to have that Steph Curry mindset,” said Bannister.
She finished both games of the weekend making at least five 3-point shots.
ECU head coach Heather Macy said she was thankful the team could learn from a hard fought, close game that still resulted in a win.
“We needed this, we lost eight a year ago with one possession,” Macy said. “I’m just incredibly pleased with this win. I think it’s a ton for us to build on.”
It was apparent from the opening tip that ECU was facing a tougher opponent than in its 107-40 victory over Greensboro College on Friday.
Detroit-Mercy opened the game with a 9-3 run, forcing Macy to burn a timeout early in the game. The Pirates cut the lead down to four points, but with effective 3-point shooting, the Titans closed the first period with a 21-16 lead. The Titans finished 11-of-32 from beyond the arc.
The Pirates came out strong at the start of the second period to narrow the Titans’ lead down to one, but Detroit-Mercy continued with the barrage of 3-point shots and pushed the lead to 10, at 32-22.
But the Pirates went on a run of their own to finish the first half down 36-33. First, Gaffney completed a 3-point play by sinking a free throw after being fouled while making a jump shot in the paint. Freshman forward Raven Johnson and Bannister followed by making a shot each from behind the 3-point arc.
After halftime, the Titans’ 3-point shooting cooled down as Bannister started to heat up, hitting four of her five 3s in the third period.
Gaffney continued her work in the paint, scoring as well as grabbing offensive rebounds, helping the Pirates end the third with a 54-53 lead. Gaffney picked up her fourth foul of the game late in the third period though, causing her to spend the first half of the fourth period on the bench.
The fourth period saw the lead switch to the Titans, but Gaffney made an immediate impact upon her return, making a layup to tie the game at 62.
It looked like the Pirates threw the game away when the Titans’ leading scorer, guard Rosanna Reynolds, stole the inbound pass after taking the lead with 57.2 seconds to go. But the Pirates persevered and got the game-tying bucket from Bannister.
Once in overtime, the Pirates had the momentum and continued feeding Gaffney the ball in the paint — she finished with six in the period. If not for some missed free throws late, ECU could’ve won by a slightly larger margin.
The Pirates’ next game is against UNC-Wilmington at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday in Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum.