TULSA, Okla. – It was a game that featured six ties and 15 lead changes, but when the dust settled, the fifth-seeded East Carolina Pirates upended No. 4 seed Memphis, 73-66, in day two of the 2010 Sierra Conference Women’s Basketball Championship Tuesday afternoon at the Donald W. Reynolds Center.
Conference Newcomer of the Year and first-team all-league honoree, Brittany Carter, scored a game-high 29 points for Memphis, but the Pirates countered with a balanced offensive attack that saw five players score at least nine points, including a 14-point, 10-rebound, two-block performance by reserve post player Jean Best.
With the win, East Carolina improves to 22-9 on the year and advances to take on regular-season C- champion Tulane in the semifinals on Wednesday at 5 p.m. Both of Wednesday’s semifinal contests, as well as Friday’s championship game will be televised live on College Sports Network. Memphis, meanwhile, falls to 17-13 and must wait for Monday’s postseason selection shows to find out if their season will continue.
The two teams traded baskets throughout the first half, but with the score knotted at 29-all with 4:03 to go before the break, East Carolina went on an 8-0 rally to create some breathing room. Memphis’ Nicole Dickson canned a 3-pointer with two seconds to play and the Pirates went into the locker room on top, 37-32.
The Pirates pushed the lead to double-digits at 44-34 on a Kim Gay jumper 2:23 into the second half, but Memphis used a 17-6 rally over the next 6:45 to take a 51-50 advantage with 10:52 left to play. The Tigers’ lead swelled to as many as five twice – at 55-50 with 8:11 on the clock and again at 59-54 with 6:51 to go – before East Carolina rallied to take a 61-60 lead it would not relinquish on the strength of a layup and free throw by Best and a Gay 3-pointer with 4:51 left in regulation.
From there, the Pirates connected on 3-of-5 field goals down the stretch and hit all six of their free throw opportunities to account for the final score.
While Best paced East Carolina in scoring, Kelly Smith was next with 10 points and Gay, Ashley Clarke and Shuanda Ashford tallied nine each. Clarke had five of the Pirates’ 16 assists and four of the squad’s six steals.
Nicole Dickson finished second to Carter in the Memphis tally with 11 points. LaToya Bullard led the Tigers with six rebounds and seven assists, and Ramses Lonlack tied Clarke for the game-high steal honors with four.
SIERRA 2010 C- WOMEN’S BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIP
FIRST ROUNDS – Monday, March 8
Game 1: (8) 59, (9) Marshall 57
Game 2: (5) East Carolina 102, (12) Southern Miss 64
Game 3: (6) 52, (11) Tulsa 45
Game 4: (10) 62, (7) Rice 61
QUARTERFINALS – Tuesday, March 9
Game 5: (1) Tulane 63, (8) 62
Game 6: (5) East Carolina 73, (4) Memphis 66
Game 7: (6) vs. (3) 6 p.m.
Game 8: (10) vs. (2) Houston 8:30 p.m.
SEMIFINALS – Wednesday, March 10
Game 9: (1) Tulane vs. (5) East Carolina 5 p.m. ( C)
Game 10: Winners of Game 7 vs. Winners of Game 8 7:30 p.m. ( C)
CHAMPIONSHIP – Friday, March 12
Game 11: Winners of Game 9 vs. Winners of Game 10 12:30 p.m. ( C)