East Carolina’s season ends in WNIT second round

Published 11:54 am Monday, March 23, 2015

DAVID CUCCHIARA | DAILY NEWS TOUGH FINISH: Redshirt junior Jada Payne finished with 19 points in a losing effort Sunday afternoon at Minges Coliseum.

TOUGH FINISH: Redshirt junior Jada Payne finished with 19 points in a losing effort Sunday afternoon at Minges Coliseum.


ECU Athletic Media Relations


GREENVILLE — The East Carolina women’s basketball team’s 2014-15 campaign came to a close in a 69-65 loss to North Carolina State in the second round of the 2015 Women’s National Invitation Tournament Sunday evening in front of a crowd of 2,160 at Williams Arena in Minges Coliseum.

Redshirt junior Jada Payne scored 19 points on 7-for-15 shooting, while compiling six rebounds, two assists and two blocks. Junior Jasmine Phillips added 14 points, five boards and three assists off the bench, senior Shae Nelson contributed 11 points and junior I’Tiana Taylor grabbed 10 rebounds. The Pirates combined for 21 assists and forced 22 turnovers, marking the 20th time opponents committed 20 or more in a game this season.

The Wolfpack was led by Miah Spencer’s 26 points, as Dominique Wilson’s scored 11 and Jennifer Mathurin posted a double-double comprising 10 points and game-high 14 rebounds.

“Just a really tough loss especially for our seniors who have done so much for our basketball program and contribute so much,” head coach Heather Macy said.  “[It was] a really tough way to finish up.”

East Carolina (22-11) trailed in the early going, but took its first lead after back-to-back three-pointers by Nelson put the Pirates ahead, 12-10, with 12:32 left in the first half. N.C. State (18-14) pulled back in front with baskets on its next two possessions, but ECU erupted with a 9-2 scoring run, capped by a Phillips triple with 6:51 remaining to put the purple and gold back on top, 21-16.

The Wolfpack closed within one point after two-straight shots went down, but Phillips converted a three-point play, her third of the season, to put East Carolina ahead, 26-20, at the final media timeout of the opening period which came at the 3:46 mark.

After an N.C. State jumper cut its deficit to four on its next possession, junior point guard Khadijah Ellison hit a pair of threes just 40 seconds apart to create ECU’s first double-digit lead of the game, 32-22, and forced the Wolfpack into calling timeout with 2:24 remaining.

The Pirates saw their 10-point advantage get cut in half, but Payne sunk her first three of the day with 55 seconds to go to give East Carolina a 35-27 edge at halftime.

ECU shot 12-for-31 (.387) from the floor, 6-for-12 (.500) outside the three-point line and 5-for-6 (.833) at the free throw line in the first half, while NC State went 11-for-28 (.393) from the field, 2-for-7 (.286) beyond the arc and just 3-for-8 (.375) at the foul stripe.

The Wolfpack started off hot in the second half, outscoring the Pirates, 13-5, over the first four minutes of action to the game at 40. East Carolina never relinquished the lead, increasing its advantage back to as many as eight four different times, the last coming at 58-50 with 6:35 left on the game clock.

That moment proved to be the turning point for N.C. State, which broke out on an 8-0 run that ended with three-point play and conversion from beyond the arc by Spencer to re-tie the game at 58 with 4:43 to go.

The Wolfpack regained the lead for the first time since the 9:47 mark in the first half after Wilson sunk a pair of free throws to put her team back on top, 61-60, with 2:28 to play and hit two more just 15 seconds later to push the advantage to three.

That was when Payne responded with a three-pointer to draw the Pirates even at 63 with 1:46 left, before Nelson knocked down a pair of free throws at the 1:09 mark to tie the game for the 11th time, 65-all.

An ECU turnover inside the final minute opened the door for N.C. State, which reclaimed possession and drew up a play that resulted in a wide-open layup with just 12 ticks remaining. Trailing by two, the Pirates called a pair of timeouts with 7.8 and four seconds remaining, but a costly turnover on an inbounds pass resulted in two made free throws and a four-point triumph for the visiting team.

East Carolina finished the game shooting 22-for-62 (.355) overall, 11-for-20 (.55) beyond the arc and 10-for-15 (.667) at the free throw line, while N.C. State shot 21-for-53 (.396) from the field, 7-for-21 (.333) from deep and 20-for-27 (.741) at the foul line.

The Pirates outscored the Wolfpack, 35-11, off the bench, but the Pack held a 22-20 advantage in the paint, 22-17 off turnovers and 16-13 in second chance points.

“I appreciate everybody coming out and supporting us,” Macy said. “I thought we had a really nice crowd and our administration and marketing department did a really nice job with us being able to host these past two rounds. I appreciate that because that does help move our program two feet forward and we’ll use this as a building block.”