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Mealing, Pirates stop skid

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East Carolina acting head coach Nicole Mealing draws out a play during Wednesday's win against Wichita State in Minges Coliseum. Jan. 9, 2019.

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Nicole Mealing said after East Carolina’s 78-56 victory over Wichita State in women’s basketball that the Pirates did not feel any extra pressure to beat a struggling team coming to Minges Coliseum.

The Pirates were aggressive from the start of the game Wednesday night and they got to celebrate in relaxed fashion after their win that stopped a three-game losing streak and gave Mealing her first head coaching victory at any level. She was 0-3 as ECU’s acting head coach since accepting the role on Dec. 26.

“We had a couple of good practices in a row and just transferred that over to the game,” Mealing said. “I’m excited for the girls because they work so hard and we needed this win tonight. … We applied the pressure (on Wichita) and going into it we knew what we had to do to come out with this win.”

A steady effort on offense and defense by Lashonda Monk, who scored 23 points in 23 minutes, led the way. She also had five of the 14 steals by the Pirates (10-5, 1-1).

Teammate Alex Frazier scored 17.

The Shockers (7-8, 0-2), who never held a lead, fell to 2-7 in their last nine contests.

Monk, ECU’s sophomore starting point guard, made a career-high four 3-pointers, finishing 4-of-9 from outside the arc.

ECU scored the first seven points and it also began the second quarter on a 6-0 spurt for a 20-10 lead. The Pirates’ 30-point third period put them in full control for a 59-33 advantage to take to the fourth.

Monk drained a 3-pointer for the opening points of the night, and then her deflection on defense led to a steal by Raven Johnson and Johnson’s pass going right back to Monk for a layup and quick 5-0 edge. The Pirates led 14-10 at the end of the quarter.

The lead ballooned to 15 points, 27-12, in the second. It was 20-12 when Monk made a 3-pointer, and baskets by Frazier and Johnson pushed the advantage to 27-12 with 5:30 until halftime.

“We just decided to come out with energy in the first half so that we didn’t have to be worried about fighting back in the second half,” Monk said. “We were getting steals on defense and that kept our momentum going.”

Monk scored 13 points in 14 minutes during the first half. She was 2-of-7 from 3-point range, then made two 3s early in the third quarter to give her team a 35-21 lead.

The game was delayed briefly during the second quarter when the firm alarm in Minges was triggered.

ECU got eight rebounds each from Johnson, Justice Gee and Desiree Corbin. Gee posted an intriguing stat line of four points, five assists, three steals and seven turnovers in addition to her eight boards.

East Carolina committed 25 turnovers and the Shockers had 21.

The win was the start of ECU playing three out of four games at home. The Pirates will host Tulsa on Saturday.

“Our fans are great here and we love playing in front of them,” Mealing said.

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

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