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ECU women hold off Tigers

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East Carolina's Alex Frazier scores during a game against Memphis on Feb. 9, 2019. (Molly Mathis/The Daily Reflector)

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By Nathan Summers
The Daily Reflector

Saturday, February 9, 2019

East Carolina built a big halftime lead on Saturday, but the Pirates’ real poise was demanded down the stretch when they were forced by Memphis to defend it in an eventual 68-59 win in Minges Coliseum.

Both teams endured dreadful shooting, but ECU (12-11, 3-7 American Athletic Conference) defended vigorously and forced 31 turnovers, and on offense the Pirates finished 25-for-30 to make the difference after a lead that neared 20 was whittled to seven in the second half.

“I think today we got a little too stagnant on offense when we had the lead, and it went from trying to win a game to trying not to lose a game, and we can’t have that mentality ever,” ECU interim head coach Dawn Mealing said of her team, which rebounded from a huge loss at Connecticut earlier in the week.

Lashonda Monk blew up for a game-high 22 points with an incredible 15-for-16 performance at the line. Also for ECU, Raven Johnson added 13 points and nine rebounds and Alex Frazier notched 12 points, while Salita Greene came off the bench to contribute nine points and eight boards.

The Pirates, who improved to 10-3 at home, found a way despite shooting shooting just 26 percent, including 10.5 (2-of-19) in the fourth quarter.

“To me, a win is a win,” Mealing said. “I think they came out and fought. We lost our focus for a few minutes in the fourth quarter, but a win is a win and I’m going to take it.”

Memphis (9-14, 4-6) shot 41 percent but never regained a lead after losing it in the first quarter.

The Tigers were led by Jamirah Shutes’ 16 points, followed by 11 from Taylor Barnes and 10 from Alana Davis. 

After swapping a handful of leads in the opening minutes of the first quarter, ECU emerged with a 20-16 edge to open the second. From there, the hosts quickly put a stranglehold on the game with punishing defense and persistent scoring, finishing the half with the game already in hand at 36-23.

That effort was fronted by Monk’s 12 points and seven from Destiny Campbell.

As the Pirates scored at one end — despite shooting just 30 percent in the half — they steadily squelched the shooting of the Tigers, who went into the intermission shooting a meager 33 percent.

In fact, the first Memphis points of the second period were at its midway point. Meanwhile, the Pirates were on their way to an insurmountable lead, going up by 10, 26-16, with 7:10 to play before halftime. It grew from there in a quarter ECU won 16-7.

Other than the score itself, the biggest disparities were the Pirates’ 12-for-14 success at the line compared to 4-for-7 by the Tigers, and the visitors had 17 first-half turnovers to ECU’s four.

Contact Nathan Summers at nsummers@reflector.com, 252-329-9595 and follow @NateSumm99 on Twitter.

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