Despite poor shooting, East Carolina women’s basketball defeated the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, 66-58, Sunday afternoon, thanks to a dominating performance on the offensive glass.
In what was a bit of an odd game, the Pirates (7-3) never trailed. At one point they led by as many as 15 points, even though they finished the game shooting 36.4 percent from the field. While 10 of the 11 ECU players put points on the board, Bre McDonald led the team with 10 points on 5-for-20 shooting.
“As you’ll see through college basketball, this is the time of year everybody’s kind of getting prepared for exams,” said ECU head coach Heather Macy. “You’ll see funny play, funny scores, you’ll see all the way across the country and I think we had spurts of that tonight.”
With all the missed shots, the Pirates grabbed 21 offensive rebounds, converting them into 19 second chance points. McDonald and Gaffney each had a game-high seven rebounds, with six of McDonald’s rebounds coming on the offensive glass.
Without all the second chance points, the Pirates might not have overcome guard Ciani Byrom and the Hawks (3-3). Byrom repeatedly beat her defender off the dribble and knifed her way through the defense for a game-high 23 points on 7-for-15 shooting. Byrom’s dribble penetration caused the Pirate defenders fits, including Alex Frazier, who only played 12 minutes due to foul trouble from guarding Byrom.
Unfortunately for the Hawks, Byrom didn’t get much help from her teammates on the offensive side of the ball, other than Keyera Eaton. Eaton, who also had success driving towards the basket, chipped in 14 points on 5-for-10 shooting.
The Pirates started off the game shooting well, as they went 8-for-16 from the field in the first quarter. ECU used its strong shooting to build a 19-14 lead at the end of the opening quarter. The quick start was highlighted by Kristen Gaffney, who scored two quick baskets in the opening three minutes of the game. Gaffney finished the game with eight points on 3-for-9 shooting.
The second quarter saw ECU quickly push its lead to 27-19, thanks to back-to-back pull up jumpers from Raven Johnson. Those would be the only shots made by Johnson, as she finished with five points. Eaton responded with a shot from behind the arc to start a 7-0 Hawks run that brought them within two, at 27-25.
The Pirates answered back with a run of their own, sparked by a Fanni Csutoras 3-pointer, which saw the first half end with a score of 35-30, ECU. Csutoras finished the game with nine points in limited time on the court.
“I feel like even if I played like just nine minutes, I felt like I was engaged on the bench,” said Csutoras. “When you are engaged on the bench, you can get on the court and be ready.”
ECU started the third quarter with two 3-pointers to push the lead to 11 points, and from that point on, the Hawks rarely threatened. At the 4:40 mark in the third MDES cut the lead to six, thanks to back-to-back Byrom baskets, but the Pirates quickly pushed the lead back to 13 points.
The fourth quarter was more of the same, with almost all of the Pirates chipping in with baskets, as Byrom valiantly tried to fight back by repeatedly driving to the basket for acrobatic layups. ECU pushed its lead to 15 off a McDonald jumper with 3:03 remaining, but the Pirates didn’t make another field goal, which enabled the Hawks to make the score a bit more respectable at 66-58.