GREENVILLE, N.C. – A late three-point field goal by graduate guard Justice Gee proved the difference Sunday afternoon as East Carolina rode a sizable early advantage to a 54-51 non-conference victory over Virginia inside John Paul Jones Arena.
The Pirate win was the first over a “Power Five” opponent on the road since January of 2006 when ECU defeated Alabama in Tuscaloosa. East Carolina also notched its second victory in three seasons against a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference – the other a 70-61 triumph over Wake Forest in 2018.
Sophomore guard Taniyah Thompson paced all players with 19 points on the strength of a trio of three-point field goals while junior Tiara Chambers recorded her first career double-double in style by scoring 11 points and corralling a personal-high 13 rebounds (10 offensive). Additionally, Gee finished with eight points and graduate guard/forward Dominique Claytor notched five steals. Meg Jefferson led the Cavaliers with 16 points and eight rebounds.
ECU (1-1) hit 21 of its 63 attempts from the field (33.3 percent) while Virginia (0-2) knocked down 18 of its 45 to end up at 40 percent. The Pirates out-rebounded the Cavaliers 40-37 and pulled down an astounding 21 offensive boards while the defense was quite active in forcing 25 UVA turnovers – resulting in 12 Pirate steals.
East Carolina was locked in defensively from the start, forcing seven turnovers in the first five minutes on the way to building an early 4-0 lead. The Pirates continued to clamp down on the Virginia offensive efforts, stretching their advantage all the way to 16-0 before the Cavaliers scored their first points off a layup with exactly one minute to play in the quarter. Thompson nailed a triple for the final points of the stanza, leaving ECU with a 19-2 edge heading into the second.
Thompson continued her hot start as the second 10-minute period commenced, knocking down another three to give East Carolina its largest lead of the game at 25-4 with 7:38 showing on the clock. UVA rallied from there, reducing the Pirate upper hand to 27-13 following a pair of free throws by Kaydan Lawson at the 2:04 mark. However, Thompson netted a quick five points in the final two minutes as ECU carried a 32-15 advantage into the half.
The Pirates limited the Cavaliers to 27.3 percent (6-of-22) shooting from the field in the opening two quarters, including 0-4 from the three-point line, while firing at a 36.4 percent (12-of-33) clip themselves. ECU out-rebounded the home squad 21-18 and collected 10 offensive rebounds in addition to forcing 17 Virginia turnovers. Thompson paced all scorers with 15 points while Lawson netted five for the Cavaliers.
UVA emerged from the break and cut the East Carolina lead to nine after second-chance layup by Emily Maupin. The Cavaliers whittled their deficit down to four with 2:20 to go in the third quarter before a Thompson layup off a nice drive extended the Pirate advantage back to seven at 42-35. A made free throw from the hands of Carole Miller proved the last points of the stanza as ECU took a six-point edge into the final period.
Virginia pulled within two at 44-42 thanks to an Amandine Toi layup at the 6:50 mark of the fourth, but graduate guard Sierra DaCosta scored off of an offensive rebound and freshman guard Synia Johnson drained a big triple to put the Pirates back ahead by seven. The Cavaliers completed the comeback, knotting the score at 51 via a pair of Lawson free throws with 16 ticks on the clock. With a chance at the last shot, DaCosta drove the ball up the floor and found Gee on the right wing. Her three-point attempt banked off the glass and through before Maupin’s last-ditch effort to send the game to overtime was no good.
Up Next: East Carolina opens its 2020-21 home slate Thursday, Dec. 3, with a non-conference matchup against the University of Georgia. Tipoff is scheduled for 4 p.m. inside Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum and the contest will be streamed live via ESPN+.