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ECU women playing Saturday at 1 p.m.

East Carolina UConn Basketball-3

East Carolina head coach Heather Macy calls out to her team in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Connecticut, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017, in Hartford, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

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By Ronnie Woodward
The Daily Reflector

Friday, January 6, 2017

With wintry conditions coming, East Carolina has moved Saturday’s women’s basketball game in Minges Coliseum from 5 p.m. to 1 p.m. 

Game preview:

After facing what might end up as the most difficult three-game stretch of its season, the East Carolina women's basketball team welcomes in SMU to Minges Coliseum for an American Athletic Conference contest.

ECU has lost three straight games by double digits, closing its nonconference schedule with an 82-72 setback at William & Mary and then beginning AAC play with a 61-45 loss to Tulane and 90-45 rout dealt by No. 1 Connecticut on Wednesday. Prior to the losing streak, the Pirates (9-6) won five of six games.

The team's last victory was 62-55 versus Southern on Dec. 20, which made ECU 6-1 in Minges Coliseum before the Tulane loss dropped it to 6-2.

SMU pales in comparison to the caliber of UConn, but the Mustangs (10-4) are on a four-game win streak. They are 7-0 at home, 1-3 on the road and 2-1 on a neutral court.

After losing 91-42 to Mississippi State (now ranked No. 4) on Dec. 16, SMU has reeled off wins over Grambling State, Texas Southern, Seattle and Cincinnati. Against the Bearcats, 6-foot-3 junior and Australia native Alicia Froling had a superb performance with 17 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks in 36 minutes. Dai'ja Thomas had eight points and eight boards.

Froling is averaging 14.5 points and 10.6 rebounds per game.

Her presence could put pressure on ECU's post players on defense. The group is led by graduate transfer Kristen Gaffney, who is averaging 16.1 points and 6.4 rebounds per outing.

Gaffney has been complemented lately in scoring by senior guard Khadidja Toure, who has scored at least eight points in five of the last six contests. She scored eight and had three assists and four turnovers against UConn.

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

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