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Auburn hands ECU first loss

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East Carolina's Bre Mcdonald goes for a shot during their game against Detroit.

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By Ronnie Woodward
The Daily Reflector

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Too many East Carolina turnovers resulted in plenty of quality scoring opportunities for visiting Auburn and the ECU women’s basketball team took its first loss of the season on Sunday.

Auburn won 61-52 in Minges Coliseum in large part because of a 32-11 advantage in points off turnovers. ECU turned the ball over 30 times, and Auburn (3-0) had 18.

The Pirates averaged 88.3 points during their first three games, which were all home wins. But the Tigers’ active 1-2-2 full court press created too many problems for ECU to come close to reaching its scoring average.

The game was tied 4-4 and 9-9 and the hosts only trailed by eight points at halftime, but a big third quarter by Auburn paved the way to victory.

“We had some live-ball turnovers that were really tough,” ECU coach Heather Macy said. “I like that we shot the ball well, but the issue is we just didn’t get enough shot attempts. When you look at the opposing team has 20 more shot attempts than you’ve taken, you see the score and you would think it would be way more lopsided. I thought we competed, but the execution of valuing the ball wasn’t where we wanted it.”

ECU shot 55.6 percent from the floor and held a 19-12 advantage in the fourth quarter.

But the third quarter was key and featured Auburn scoring 21 points. It was 49-33 Tigers going to the fourth.

ECU’s Bre McDonald hit a 3-pointer to open the scoring in the second half and make it a 28-23 deficit. The next points came on an Auburn 3, giving it a 31-23 edge at the 8:23 mark.

Another triple by the Tigers made it 40-25 with 4:41 left in the third.

East Carolina leading scorer Kristen Gaffney was held to eight points on 3-of-5 shooting from the field. Second on the team in scoring is sharpshooting Antoinette Bannister, who didn’t score. McDonald scored a team-high 16 points.

“We would like to have (Gaffney) get more shot attempts, but I think the nature of the press, we only got 39 shot attempts period, and that changes the numbers drastically,” Macy said. “She is a big part of what we do, and we definitely have to focus on getting her involved.”

Auburn’s largest lead was 18 points with 2:08 left in the third quarter.

Auburn guard Janiah McKay scored 17. Also for the victors, Katie Frerking turned in a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds.

Senior guard Khadidja Toure made her first start of the season for the Pirates and finished with eight points and five rebounds.

ECU turned the ball over seven times during the opening period, but only trailed 13-12. An errant pass early in the second quarter was picked off by Auburn’s Jessica Jones, and the visitors quickly turned that into a transition basket to gain control with a 21-12 lead with 6:44 to play. It became a double-digit advantage for the first time — 26-16 — with 1:29 until halftime.

“I think there’s a lot of lessons to be valued from this basketball game, and we’ll get to that film really quickly,” Macy said.

Contact Ronnie Woodward at rwoodward@reflector.com, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.

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