Dec. 28, 2012
GREENVILLE, N.C. – The East Carolina women’s basketball team returns to action after a 10-day hiatus due to winter break with a Saturday, Dec. 29, non-conference contest versus Elon at 3 p.m. The game is the first of an ECU basketball doubleheader and will be followed by an ECU men’s game against Norfolk State at 5:30 p.m.
The Game: ECU vs. Elon
East Carolina will host Elon on Saturday, Dec. 29 in a non-conference contest. ECU is 8-3 on the year, while Elon is 4-5 overall and 1-1 in Southern Conference action. Tip-off is set for 3 p.m.
The Pirates and Phoenix will face off for the 10th time in program history and East Carolina leads the all-time series 7-2. Last season the Pirates defeated the Phoenix, 60-46, at the ECU Pirate Thanksgiving Tournament on November 27, 2011, at Minges Coliseum. Last year’s meeting was the first since 1998 and Elon has not defeated ECU since February 6, 1975 when the Phoenix edged the Pirates, 69-63, in Greenville, N.C.
Last Time Out
The Pirates return to action after a 10-day hiatus due to winter break. In its last game, East Carolina hung tight with No. 17 North Carolina before falling 76-67 to the Tar Heels at the Beach Ball Classic. In the setback, three Pirates scored in double figures as Whitny Edwards led the way with 15 points, while Britny Edwards and Celeste Stewart tallied 12 and 10 points, respectively. Whitny Edwards finished the game with five rebounds and an assist, while her twin sister Britny Edwards led the squad with six boards. Stewart led ECU with five assists, three rebounds and a steal. Ariana Jackson and Janesha Ebron came off the bench and posted nine points each. Jackson concluded the contest with four rebounds, three steals, and an assist, while Ebron added three boards and a pair of steals. Kyani White led the team with four steals and also contributed five points, three assists and two boards. East Carolina led UNC at the half by a score of 32-31, while outshooting the Tar Heels 43.8-percent to 41.4-percent in the first half.
About the Pirates
East Carolina owns a 8-3 record and has won six out of its last eight games. This season, the Pirates are outscoring their opponents by more than 150 points (732-564) and are averaging 66.5 points per game while holding their opponents to 51.3. Additionally, ECU is averaging 14.8 steals per game and forcing its opponents into 25.7 turnovers per contest. Britny Edwards leads the team in scoring (11.7 points per game), rebounding (7.5 rebounds per game) and blocks (18). The redshirt senior center / power forward has tallied 10 assists and 11 steals on the year while shooting 54.8-percent. Whitny Edwards is averaging 10.9 points per game and 6.8 rebounds per game. The redshirt senior forward has also contributed 22 assists and 17 steals. Senior Celeste Stewart has been consistent for the Pirates all season as she leads the squad with 50 assists and has added 99 points (9.0 points per game), 33 rebounds (3.0 rebounds per game), 22 steals and a trio of blocks. Kyani White is the team leader in steals with 32. The redshirt sophomore has also totaled 55 points, 27 boards and 35 assists, with one block this season.
Scouting The Phoenix
Elon owns a 4-5 overall record and is 1-1 in Southern Conference action. The Phoenix are led by Ali Ford and Kelsey Evans who are averaging 16.8 and 14.1 points per game, respectively. Evans is also the rebounding leader with 85 to average 9.4 boards per game. Ford leads the squad with 43 assists and has also added 17 steals and 27 rebounds. Sophomore Zora Stephenson is averaging 8.3 points per contest, while junior Kelsey Harris is averaging 8.2. As a team, the Phoenix average 65.3 points per contest and are shooting 41.3-percent. Elon holds a slight edge on its opponents in assists as the Phoenix are averaging 13.3, while their opponents average 13.0. Elon has posted 48 blocks on the year to average 5.3 per contest, while limiting its opponents to just 2.0 blocks per game.
East Carolina: Head Coach Heather Macy (Greensboro College, 2000) enters her third year at the helm of the ECU women’s basketball team and holds a record of 36-37 as the Pirates leader. Overall, Macy owns a 151-76 overall record and is 89-42 in conference action. In her first year with the Pirates, Macy guided the team to a winning record for the third straight season and helped the Pirates to a 9-7 conference mark which was good for fifth place in the league. Macy came to ECU from Francis Marion where she led the Patriots to a 27-5 ledger during the 2009-10 season and finished second in the East Division of the Peach Belt Conference. Under her tutelage, FMU earned a berth to the NCAA Division II Tournament and advanced to the second round. Macy spent three seasons with FMU and finished her stint with an impressive 75-19 record. She began her coaching career with Pfeiffer, where she coached for two years and led the Falcons to a 26-5 record in her final season.
Elon: Charlotte Smith (North Carolina, 1999) is in her second year as the head coach of the Elon women’s basketball program and has led the Phoenix to a 20-19 overall mark thus far. Last year, she guided the Phoenix to a 16-14 record which marked the most victories by a first-year head coach in program history. Smith, a former UNC women’s basketball standout, came to Elon from her alma mater where she served as an assistant coach from 2002-11. In her nine years at UNC, she helped the Tar Heels to a 257-54 record, including a 100-30 mark in the ACC. During her tenure, UNC won four ACC titles and made seven appearances in the top-25 rankings. Additionally, the Tar Heels made the NCAA Tournament all nine seasons during Smith’s career, which included a pair of trips to the Final Four as well as six Sweet 16 and four Elite Eight appearances.
The National Spotlight
As a team, East Carolina ranks in the Top 25 in five categories in NCAA Division I statistics as of December 16. The Pirates are third in steals per game (15.1), sixth in turnover margin (9.4), 10th in scoring defense (48.8), 15th in assists per game (17.5), and 24th in assists to turnover ratio (1.05). Individually, redshirt sophomore Kyani White ranks 12th in assist to turnover ratio as she is averaging 2.7.
Cracking the Top 10
Britny Edwards etched her name into the ECU record book in the Pirates’ game against NC Central on Dec. 4. The redshirt senior recorded just one block, but it was enough to give her 63 for her career which ranks 10th in the East Carolina annals. Additionally, senior Celeste Stewart found her way into the ECU annals as she tallied five assists versus No. 17 North Carolina on Dec. 19, at the Beach Ball Classic. She now has 284 career assists to rank 10th in the ECU record books.
Closing in on the Top 10
Senior Shala Hodges is 13 three-pointers away from jumping into 10th place in the ECU all-time record books for most three-point field goals made in a career. Currently, Hodges has tallied 74 treys, while former Pirate Danielle Charlesworth (1993-96) is in 10th place with 87.
All-Tourney All The Time
The Pirates have played in a pair of tournaments this year and Britny Edwards has collected All-Tournament Team honors in each. During the Thanksgiving weekend, Britny Edwards averaged a double-double with 13.0 points per game and 10.0 rebounds per game en route to being named the ECU Pirate Thanksgiving Tournament MVP. She shot 63.2-percent and recorded five blocks with two assists and one steal in the tournament. At the Navy Classic, she delivered once again as she recorded a pair of double-doubles and finished the weekend with a total of 32 points (16.0 points per game), 21 rebounds (10.5 rebounds per game), five steals, two blocks and a pair of assists as she was named to the Navy Classic All-Tournament Team.
Off the Bench
The East Carolina women’s basketball team utilizes its bench as much as anyone, if not more. Last season, the Pirates’ bench outscored their opponents in 19-of-31 games and ECU’s bench tallied 656 points to their opponents’ 429. This season, the Pirates’ bench has outscored its opponents’ bench 273-178. ECU’s non-starters tallied 52 of the team’s 84 points in the Pirates’ win over St. Andrew’s on Nov. 11, and East Carolina’s bench recorded 45 of 79 points against Converse on Nov. 18.
Britny Edwards has tallied 129 points this season to average a team-high 11.7 points per game. She has led the team in scoring on five occassions. Not far behind Britny Edwards is her twin sister Whitny Edwards who has recorded 120 points on the season to average 10.9 points per game. The duo are the only two Pirates to average double-figures in scoring this season. Britny Edwards also leads the team with a 54.8-percent field goal percentage which is good for fourth in the conference.
Cleaning up the Glass
Whitny Edwards and Britny Edwards have been doing their duty at the glass this season. The twins have totaled 157 rebounds as Britny has collected 82 and Whitny has added 75. Britny is averaging 7.5 rebounds per game which ranks ninth in the conference. Additionally, she is ninth in both offensive (2.7) and defensive (4.7) rebounds in Conference USA.
Pirates Plunder, Pillage, and Steal
Sophomore guard Kyani White has collected 32 steals to average 2.9 steals per game in for ECU. Against Converse, White grabbed a game-high eight steals to tie for sixth place in the ECU single-game record book. She is sixth in Conference USA in steals per contest.
Thanks for the Assistance
Senior Celeste Stewart picked up right where she left off last season - leading the team in assists. The 5-foot-8 guard has dished out a team-leading 50 assists this season to average 4.5 assists per game which is good for second in C-USA statistics. She is currently in 10th place in the ECU career record books with 284 in her career.
Redshirt senior Britny Edwards recorded a game-high five blocks in the Pirates’ season opener at William & Mary. Her five blocks tied her career-high from a year ago when she tallied five stops versus Jacksonville on December 18, 2011. Last season, Britny Edwards finished the year with a team-leading 45 blocks. This season, Edwards has posted a team-leading 18 blocks to average 1.8 blocks per game which leads Conference USA. In the Pirates’ win over NC Central, Edwards tallied her 63rd career block to break into the ECU all-time record book.
ECU as a Team in C-USA
As a team the Pirates lead Conference USA in seven categories. East Carolina has set the standard in scoring defense (51.3), scoring margin (+15.3), steals (14.8), turnover margin (+8.9), assists to turnover ratio (1.0), offensive rebounds (17.6), and offensive rebound percentage (.399). The Pirates rank in the top five in 15 of 21 categories in conference statistics.
ECU Players in C-USA
Individually, East Carolina has a number of players in the top 10 in conference statistics. Britny Edwards leads the way as her name appears in five categories. The redshirt senior center / power forward is in third in blocked shots (1.6), fourth in field goal percentage (.548), and ninth in rebounding (7.5), offensive rebounds (2.7) and defensive rebounds (4.7). Kyani White leads the conference in assists to turnover ratio (2.2) and is sixth in steals with 2.9 per game. Senior point guard Celeste Stewart ranks second in assists as she averages 4.5 per contest, while her assists to turnover ratio of 1.6 is good for fourth. Whitny Edwards is seventh in three-point made field goals as the reshirt senior forward averages 1.7.
The Pirates kick off the new year with a non-conference contest at George Mason on Wednesday, Jan. 2, in Fairfax, Va. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. at the Patriot Center. The meeting marks the 46th in program history and ECU holds a 24-21 lead in the all-time series. The Pirates and Patriots will go head to head for the first time in 10 years as the last time the two squads squared off was Jan. 3, 2003 in Fairfax, Va. During that contest, East Carolina defeated George Mason, 76-69.