The East Carolina women’s basketball team, still dealing with several injuries, was beaten 67-51 by Howard on Monday night in Minges Coliseum.

The loss, the Pirates’ third in a row, dropped ECU to 3-7 overall.

“They outplayed us on both ends of the floor,” ECU coach Kim McNeill said. “They wanted it more than we did tonight. They executed their game plan much better than we did. Kudos to them, they deserved to win, we didn’t deserve to win.”

The Pirates, playing their first game in 13 days, sprinted to a 21-8 lead, but with only seven players available, fatigue set in. Howard (7-4) climbed back into the game, cutting its deficit to 28-25 by halftime.

The Bison took the lead early in the third quarter and never gave it back.

“For us, since we only have seven players we try to work that a lot in practice,” Pirates junior guard Necole Hope said. “Fatigue is going to set in if not right away for us. We just have to push through it. There’s no excuse for fatigue, none at all.”

Hope finished with a team-high 13 points to go with five rebounds. Lashonda Monk (nine points, three assists, four steals) and Dominque Claytor (seven points, seven rebounds, eight assists, six steals) both saw more than 35 of 40 possible minutes on the court.

The Pirates attempted to rally via the 3-point shot, but hit just 12.5 percent (2-for-16) of their attempts from beyond the arc. ECU shot only 31 percent from the field.

While the Pirates remained shorthanded, McNeill has found success with a smaller roster in her previous stops.

“I don’t like to use that as an excuse, it’s no excuse,” McNeill said. “We have to lock in on who we are, how we want to win games and buying in to doing that, not only on the court but off the court by taking care of our bodies, getting our rest, the nutritional piece. I’ve been here before. I won 23 games at Hartford with seven kids, so it can be done.”

Foul trouble also created issues late, as Ryann Evans fouled out early in the second half, followed by Tiara Chambers. The shortage led to more turnovers. ECU finished with 20 turnovers, while the Bison had 22.

“Night in and night out I come in and look at the stat sheet and we’re getting 20 or 25 more possessions than the other team, but we’re also turning it over or missing layups. You can’t miss 20 layups and win games. Bottom line.”

Howard’s Sarah Edmond finished with 17 points, nine rebounds, four assists and four blocked shots.

The Pirates return to action on Dec. 20, when it travels to face Northwestern at the West Palm Beach Classic. Tip-off is scheduled for 2:30 p.m.

Contact Jake Keator at jkeator@reflector.com, 252-329-9594 and follow @JakeKeatorDR on Twitter.