GREENVILLE, N.C. – A dominant second-half effort carried the East Carolina women’s basketball team to an 81-52 victory over Gardner-Webb on Monday night in Minges Coliseum.
East Carolina improves to 1-2 on the season while Gardner-Webb drops to 0-3.
How It Happened
Danae McNeal started the game strong for the Pirates, shooting 3-of-3 from the floor and scoring a team-high seven points. McNeal finished the quarter with a flourish as she threw an alley-oop to Raven Johnson who laid it in to make it 13-7 at the end of the first quarter.
Gardner-Webb caught fire in the second quarter, shooting 9-of-14 (64.3%) and 2-of-3 (66.7%) from beyond the three-point arc. The Runnin’ Bulldogs did most of their damage in the pain, scoring 14 points inside the lane and outscored East Carolina 22-15 to take a 29-28 lead at the halftime break.
The two teams went back-and-forth with runs in the early going of the third quarter. Taniyah Thompson and McNeal scored East Carolina’s first 11 points of the quarter to help the Pirates take a 39-31 lead. But Gardner-Webb answered with a 9-0 run of its own to regain the lead at 40-39.
After the two teams traded baskets, the Pirates really began to pick up the intensity on defense. East Carolina did not allow Gardner-Webb to hit a field goal for more than four minutes, while at the other end, the Pirates rattled off a 13-0 run. Tiara Chambers scored six of those points while Alexsia Rose had three assists. The Pirates extended the run with five more points from Thompson and closed the quarter with a 59-45 lead.
After a Gardner-Webb layup to open the fourth, the Pirates once again turned up the head-on defense which helped them put the game away. The Pirates took off on a 10-0 run to extend the lead to 22. Gardner-Webb finally ended the run and then hit a triple with 3:54 to go, but that was the last basket of the game for the Runnin’ Bulldogs, as the Pirates finished the game on another 10-0 run to close the game on a high note.
McNeal had the best game of her collegiate career, scoring 23 points on 10-of-16 shooting while adding five assists, four rebounds, three steals and one block.
Thompson reached the 20-point mark for the second straight game, scoring 21 points with a team-high 5-of-7 from the free-throw line.
Raven Johnson finished with 11 points, the first time she has scored in double-figures since Nov. 12, 2019.
The Pirates finished with a season-high 22 assists on 31 field goals. Along with McNeal’s five helpers, Da’Ja Green also had five assists while Rose had four.
The Pirates forced 29 turnovers and scored 34 points off those Gardner-Webb miscues.
The 31 third-quarter points were the most since the Pirates scored 31 against Tulsa on Jan. 31, 2017.
The Pirates will host Hampton on Thursday morning for the program’s annual Education Day. Tipoff is scheduled for 11 a.m., inside Minges Coliseum and the game will be broadcast on ESPN+.