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Pirates hold on for 3rd straight win

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East Carolina's Dominique Claytor, left, fights for the ball with Norfolk State's Armani Franklin during their game on Dec. 2, 2017. (Molly Mathis/The Daily Reflector)

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Saturday, December 2, 2017

With cold outside shooting a consistent undertone, Norfolk State and East Carolina both posted season-low offensive performances in women’s basketball action Saturday afternoon in Minges Coliseum.

ECU’s active defense played a part in that, and Ariyana Williams scored 13 points and even made a few late 3-pointers to help the Pirates finish off a 51-46 win against the visiting Spartans for ECU to hold a winning streak of three games for the first time in the young season.

ECU (4-4) finished 2-of-16 from 3-point range, and the Spartans were 0-for-12. Both squads produced their lowest scoring output of the season.

NSU (2-5), which trailed by as many as 14 points late in the third quarter, rallied to suddenly take a 46-45 lead with 1:50 remaining in the fourth.

Dominique Claytor scored the go-ahead basket on a putback for the Pirates on the ensuing possession. Alex Frazier made one free throw and Mickayla Sanders sunk both of her attempts to create the 50-46 score and seal the victory, which happened despite East Carolina making 17 of its 56 field goals for a 30.4 percentage.

“My expectation is every single night, we are going to defend and we are going to rebound,” Pirate coach Heather Macy said. “We may shoot it bad or may shoot it good, but the way we defend and rebound has to be a staple. We’re figuring that out and they are learning here, and I think the result is we are winning more.”

The Pirates’ three straight victories have come by a combined 11 points, reversing a trend of close losses to start the year.

ECU appeared poised for a rout against Norfolk, which fell to 1-5 all-time in the series and finished 1-of-10 shooting from the field in the first quarter. East Carolina had three steals before the visitors even attempted their second field goal.

There were 24 straight missed 3-pointers until Williams’ make gave the Pirates a 41-31 lead with 7:14 remaining. Williams also drained her next attempt from the outside, making it 44-35.

“I was still confident, even through misses, and I know that I still have to keep shooting to get going,” said Williams, who finished 2-of-9 from 3-point range.

Kayla Roberts was 0-for-6 from the outside and 2-of-12 on field goals for NSU.

ECU was up 25-20 at halftime thanks to a dominant opening period that saw the visitors score only seven points. The Spartans scored six in the third before a 20-point outburst in the fourth.

Pirate backup post player Destiny Campbell made all three of her field goals in the first half, totaling seven points and two rebounds in eight minutes. She finished with seven points, three boards and two blocks to complement the scoring by Williams and Thais Oliveira (10 points, five rebounds).

“The way that (Campbell) stepped in during that second quarter and hit some really pivotal shots when they were on a run was hugely important,” Macy said.

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

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