GREENVILLE, N.C. – Powered by a three-point barrage from Jayla Hearp and a second-half takeover by Danae McNeal, the East Carolina women’s basketball team took down the High Point Panthers 65-54 in overtime in front of a record-breaking crowd.
The Pirates got out of the gate strong in the game, running out to an 18-6 lead, highlighted by a long-range bomb from Micah Dennis as time expired in the first quarter. The lead was stretched further by the strong defensive outing from ECU, holding High Point to zero of their first 19 attempts from three and only 5-32 on the day.
The game was destined to be close, however, as the Panthers put on a run of their own, 12-2 over the second 10-minute quarter.
After halftime, the game stayed tight. High Point led by three late in the third quarter – their largest lead in the game – on the heels of a 25-point outburst in the period. The quarter could have been worse if not for the electric shooting of Jayla Hearp. In a two-minute stretch towards the end of the period, Hearp made three-straight three pointers for the Pirates, on her way to making her first four of the game from deep.
The Pirates bounced back, however, making a 9-0 run in the fourth quarter, powered by excellent defending and a scoring outburst form Danae McNeal. McNeal scored 19 points on the day, including seven in the fourth, to go with a trio of steals. McNeal also came up clutch with a pair of blocks on the day including one in overtime. Back and forth the game went before Alexsia Rose scored a crucial basket with 44 seconds left to give the Pirates the lead before High Point leveled the game with 28 ticks remaining. ECU’s game-winning attempt didn’t fall and the teams had to settle for playing five more minutes in overtime.
It was all East Carolina in that extra period, outscoring High Point 12-1, kicked off by a shot-clock buzzer-beating Hearp three with just over three minutes remaining. Hearp finished the game with a stellar 5-6 mark from deep. The team did not look back from there as McNeal scored off of a turnover before Hearp scored in the paint to extend the lead to seven with just a minute to play.
It was down to making free throws from there as Rose hit 3-4 of her attempts and Synia Johnson hit a pair, part of her perfect 4-4 outing from the stripe to go with four assists and a steal.. Five Pirates registered five or more rebounds on the day, led by Rose with a career-best nine boards.
With 6,657 fans in attendance, largely local students for ECU’s annual Education Day, the crowd was the largest in East Carolina history for a women’s game in Minges Coliseum.