FORT WORTH, Texas (WNCT) — From worst to first.

The East Carolina women’s basketball team won the AAC Tournament title on Thursday night after holding off Houston, 46-44, at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas. The Pirates (23-9), the No. 3 seed, won their first conference championship since 2007.

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The Pirates also became the first team to win the AAC title after not being seeded No. 1.

“They picked us last, they picked us last and now we are going dancing,” said ECU women’s coach Kim McNeill, the AAC coach of the year, after the game. ECU was picked by the AAC coaches to finish last in the preseason poll.

The NCAA women’s tournament selection show is Sunday at 8 p.m. on ESPN.

Defining moments so far this season for ECU women’s basketball

Synia Johnson, who was named Most Outstanding Player, led the Pirates with 13 points, seven rebounds and four steals while Farmville Central High graduate Amiya Joyner had seven points, 15 rebounds and three blocks. The Pirates shot just 28.1% and started the game down 8-0 before eventually getting the lead for the first time in the third quarter.

Denae McNeal was held to six points, going 0-for-9 from the floor shooting in the first half. ECU missed its first 10 shots and turned it over five times early as the title game quickly turned into a defensive slugfest. They trailed 11-2 after the first quarter.

The Pirates used a 6-2 run over the final 2:31 to seal it. Joyner’s layup and free throw with 1:30 left gave ECU the lead for good at 43-42. Micah Dennis made two free throws with 44 seconds left to push ECU’s lead to 45-42.

Kamryn Jones cut the margin to 45-44 with 18 seconds left for Houston. The Cougars (15-16) got the ball back with a chance to lead but Bria Patterson’s shot was blocked by Joyner. Dennis then made 1-of-2 free throws before a desperation throw by Houston fell short.

2023 American Athletic Conference Women’s Basketball Championship
All-Tournament Team
Synia Johnson, East Carolina – Most Outstanding Player
Amiya Joyner, East Carolina
Tatyana Hill, Houston
Bria Patterson, Houston
Kyren Whittington, Tulane
First Round | Monday, March 6
Game 1: No. 8 Wichita State 71, No. 9 Temple 61
Game 2: No. 10 UCF 69, No. 7 Tulsa 53
Game 3: No. 6 Tulane 61, No. 11 Cincinnati 52
Quarterfinals | Tuesday, March 7
Game 4: No. 8 Wichita State 65, No. 1 South Florida 53
Game 5: No. 4 Houston 52, No. 5 SMU 33
Game 6: No. 2 Memphis 48, No. 10 UCF 46
Game 7: No. 3 East Carolina 69, No. 6 Tulane 58
Semifinals | Wednesday, March 8
Game 8: No. 4 Houston 72, No. 8 Wichita State 64
Game 9: No. 3 East Carolina 69, No. 2 Memphis 60
Final | Thursday, March 9
Game 10: No. 3 East Carolina 46, No. 4 Houston 44