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Lady Pirates edge Tulane, 69-65

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Shae Nelson made a crucial three-pointer with 31 seconds left in the game to put East Carolina up by four en route to defeating Conference USA foe Tulane, 69-65, at Devlin Fieldhouse on Wednesday night. With the win, the Pirates improve to 14-2 on the season and 2-1 in C-USA action, while the Green Wave drops to 11-5 overall and 2-1 in league play.

Redshirt junior guard Abria Trice led the Pirates offensively with a game-high 29 points to go along with six rebounds, four assists, two blocks and one steal. Redshirt sophomore forward Jada Payne recorded her fifth double-double of the season with 16 points and 10 boards while adding a team-best five assists and two steals. Senior forward Kristine Mial contributed 13 points to round out the Pirates' double-figure scorers.

East Carolina out-rebounded Tulane 42-32 and held the edge in assists, 18-14. The Green Wave, however, out-shot the Pirates 42.3-percent to ECU's 41.4 field goal percentage. Tulane finished the game with 10 blocks, while East Carolina notched five.

The game was a battle from the start as the conference rivals traded leads 21 times and fought through 13 ties in 40 minutes of action.

Tulane started the game on a 5-0 run, but East Carolina was quick to turn the five-point deficit into a two-point lead (7-5) after Payne tallied a trey and a layup in the seven-point run. The five-point lead was the largest advantage Tulane would hold throughout the game, as ECU would never allow the Green Wave to break the game open. In the first half alone, the Pirates and Green Wave knotted the score eight times and exchanged leads 13 times. With less than one minute left in the half, East Carolina took a two-point lead (33-31) on a three-point field goal from Mial, but Tulane managed to even the score at 33-all at halftime.

The Pirates started the second half rattling off six consecutive points to take a 39-33 lead at 17:06. The lead marked the largest ECU held in the contest. Tulane chipped away at the Pirates' lead and the game returned to the back and forth affair that began at tip-off. The 13th and final tie of the game came at 2:54 after Tulane's Jamie Kaplan sunk a pair of free throws. With 1:08 remaining in the game, Trice gave the Pirates the lead for good after connecting on a jumper to give ECU a 61-59 advantage. The Green Wave continued to battle and eventually cut East Carolina's lead to one (62-61) with 49 seconds left to play. As Tulane put the pressure on, Nelson came through for the Pirates as she drained a three-pointer with 31 seconds remaining to make it a two-possession game (65-61). The Green Wave refused to quit and cut the Pirates' lead back down to two (67-65) with just nine seconds left on the clock, but Nelson tallied a layup with just six second left to play to give East Carolina the four-point (69-65) victory.

The Green Wave had three double-figure scorers in Tiffany Dale (18 points), Kaplan (18 points), and Leslie Vorpahl (11 points). Adesuwa Ebomwonyi led the team with nine rebounds, while adding a game-high three steals. Kaplan dished out a game-best eight assists to go along with six boards.

East Carolina will return to Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum on Saturday, January 18, when the Pirates play host to Louisiana Tech in a Conference USA match that tips off at 5 p.m.

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