Facing a second-half deficit, the ECU women’s basketball team could not make up the ground, falling to Cincinnati 68-57 on Saturday evening inside Minges Coliseum.
ECU (13-14, 4-10) shot 22-of-56 (.393) from the floor and 11-of-14 (.786) from the free throw line. Lashonda Monk led the Pirates in scoring, finishing with 16 points as well as five steals. Destiny Campbell scored 14 points on 7-of-12 (.583) shooting while Alex Frazier added 12 points and five assists.
Cincinnati (18-9, 10-4 AAC) finished the game 27-of-63 (.429) from the field and added four three-pointers and 10 free throws. The Bearcats had a 45-29 advantage on the boards and outscored ECU 15-8 in second chance points. Antoinette Miller and Florence Sifa both scored a team-high 17 points, while Angel Rizor just missed a double-double with 12 points and nine rebounds.
The first quarter was a high scoring affair as both offenses came out firing. Campbell started the game 3-of-4 from the floor, with all three makes coming on midrange jumpers. Frazier made both of her shots in the first quarter while Monk added four points on a layup and a pair of free throws. On the Cincinnati side, Sifa started the game a perfect 2-of-2 from the floor and made both of her free throws. The Bearcats led 21-16 at the end of the first, partially thanks to a 6-2 advantage in second chance points.
ECU’s offense continued to chug along at the beginning of the second quarter. Campbell opened the frame with a layup and Necole Hope answred a Cincinnati triple with a jumper of her own. After Sifa hit her third jumper of the game for the Bearcats, ECU scored on consecutive possessions, the first through a Campbell jumper and the second on a Salita Greene putback. Those consecutive buckets cut the Cincinnati lead to just two, at 26-24.
From there though, ECU’s offense went cold. The Pirates did not score for more than six straight minutes. In that span, Cincinnati went on a 10-0 run. Miller was the catalyst, hitting a jumper and then a three-pointer in that run. Although Justice Gee and Raven Johnson each scored a field goal in the final two minutes of the half, the damage was done and Cincinnati took a 39-28 lead into the locker room.
Coming into the second half, ECU knew it needed to go on a run to threaten the Bearcats. However each time ECU threw a punch, Cincinnati had an answer of its own. The Pirates scored the first four points of the second half, thanks to a pair of Frazier free throws and a Campbell layup, but Cincinnati went on a 5-0 run of its own right after.
ECU could not turn its most effective weapon into points in the second half either. The Pirates forced nine Cincinnati turnovers during the final 20 minutes, but those Bearcat miscues produced just three points. The Bearcats also did not let ECU get many second looks at the basket, limiting ECU to three offensive rebounds in the second half after pulling down seven in the first.
In the fourth quarter, the Cincinnati lead fluctuated between nine and 13 for most of the quarter, only dropping to seven when there were only 34 seconds remaining. The Pirates had momentum momentarily when Monk made a pair of triples on consecutive ECU possessions, but Sam Rodgers made a three of her own after the second to restore a 12-point lead.
Campbell and Greene led ECU in rebounding with five each. Gee had a team-high six assists while Frazier dished out five of her own. Monk recorded her 100th steal of the season in the second quarter, becoming just the third Pirate to do so in a single season.
ECU will have a week off to regroup before heading into the final two games of the regular season. The last road game of the season for the Pirates is on Saturday, March 2 at Tulsa before closing out the year at home on Monday, March 4 against SMU.