Lady Pirates turn off the lights on the Miners

Published 2:04 am Friday, February 6, 2009

By By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
GREENVILLE — Dominating the defending Conference USA champions, the East Carolina Lady Pirates turned Thursday’s contest with the UTEP Miners into a laugher. Balanced scoring and a stingy defense led ECU to a 73-43 victory at Minges Coliseum.
The Lady Pirates (13-9, 4-5), who wore pink “Yow” warm-up jerseys in honor of former N.C. State coaching great and ECU alum Kay Yow, who recently passed away after a battle with cancer, continued their solid play at home. They improved to 9-1 in Minges with the thumping of the Miners.
ECU put an end to a two-game skid in the process.
Center Lauren Cochran, who had nine points and three rebounds, said the team thrives on playing at home.
Ten different players scored for the Lady Pirates. Ashley Clarke led the way with 11 points, while LaCoya Terry and Kim Gay added 10 each. Allison Spivey had eight points and Jasmine Young contributed eight points and six assists.
Timika Williams paced UTEP with 14 points.
The game featured C-USA’s top-rated offense (ECU) against the conference’s top defense (UTEP). It was ECU’s stifling defense that enabled the Lady Pirates to blow this one wide open.
UTEP (12-10, 5-4) shot just 19 of 60 (31.7 percent), including 1 of 17 from 3-point land, while ECU hit on 31 of 49 (63.3 percent), including a sizzling 18 of 26 (69.2 percent) in the second half.
Meanwhile, the Lady Pirates had 20 more rebounds (43 to 23) than UTEP.
The Lady Pirates scored in bunches, allowing them to build a double-digit lead. Jean Best’s three-point play with just over six minutes remaining in the first half gave ECU a 19-9 cushion.
UTEP pulled within seven a couple times, but jumpers in the final minute by Young and Terry pushed the ECU advantage to 13 points, 30-17. Jareica Hughes nailed a trey for the Miners with 10 seconds left, but Young raced down the floor and hit a pull-up jumper at the buzzer, making it 32-20.
That momentum carried over into the second half. The Lady Pirates quickly and methodically extended the lead.
Cochran’s free throw pushed the margin to 15 (39-24), while her layup with 10 minutes remaining extended the advantage to 21 points (53-32).
Freshman Crystal Wilson converted a three-point play to give ECU a 30-point advantage (64-34) at the 6:20 mark.
Clark gave ECU its biggest lead (32 points), 73-41, on a three-point play with a minute left.
The Lady Pirates return to action Sunday at Tulane.