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Winning record in reach for ECU women

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Nicole Mealing, acting head coach for East Carolina women's basketball, applauds players during Monday's win over SMU in Minges Coliseum.

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BY RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Friday, March 8, 2019

A win today at the American Athletic Conference women’s basketball tournament for East Carolina over SMU will ensure a final winning record for the Pirates, even with the ECU-SMU winner facing the daunting task in the quarterfinals of playing Connecticut in Uncasville, Conn.

ECU (15-14) won its final two games of the regular season, including beating SMU on Monday night in Greenville, to finish in a tie for seventh place in the AAC. Tulsa had the tiebreaker, dropping the Pirates into the 8-9 matchup versus the Mustangs (11-18) at 2 p.m.

The Pirates beating SMU and losing to UConn would give them a 16-15 record for the second straight year, but this has been a unique season for East Carolina. Former veteran coach Heather Macy resigned during the preseason amid an internal review led by the ECU athletics’ office of compliance, leading first to Chad Killinger serving as interim head coach and then Nicole Mealing taking over the lead role in December.

“We got into a flow at the right time and I think we have the right people taking the right shots,” Mealing said of defeating Tulsa and SMU during the last week. “You can see that our percentages have gone up. ... I think we’re in a good place right now and we’re just jelling on the court and our defense is picking up and we’re playing with intensity.”

East Carolina won its first four games of the season and was 9-2 before struggles set in late in December and then for almost all of January during league play.

ECU defeated SMU twice, 64-60 and 67-61, during the regular season. The 67-61 victory was Monday, when the host Pirates shot 43.1 percent from the floor and made 16-of-20 free throws.

Speedy guard Lashonda Monk scored 15 points last weekend against Tulsa, and she had 19 points, five steals and four assists versus SMU. She is the team’s leading scorer at 13.1 points per game.

Post player Destiny Campbell has scored at least 14 points in three straight outings, and senior guard Alex Frazier scored 17 on Monday.

“Back-to-back wins going into the conference tournament, that is great momentum for any team,” Frazier said.

The AAC games today and Saturday will available to stream on ESPN3. The semifinals are Sunday, followed by the championship game Monday night on ESPN2.

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

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