Memphis, Tenn. – East Carolina (10-16) lost to Memphis (12-12) on the road, 72-50, Wednesday night for the Pirates tenth-straight loss in American Athletic Conference play. The Tigers were led by Taylor Williams and Cheyenne Creighton who each scored 19 points. Kristen Gaffney led ECU with 13 points marking the fourth time in five games as the Pirates’ leading scorer. Every member of the Purple and Gold’s squad scored for the second consecutive game.
The Pirates scored 24 points in the first quarter, the most for ECU since scoring 30 against Greensboro College onNovember 11. The Purple and Gold held it close through the first half, trailing by three, 38-35, at halftime. Memphis controlled the final 20 minutes of play outscoring East Carolina 34-15.
ECU shot 36.8 percent from the field in the loss and was out-rebounded 40-32 by Memphis. Dominique Claytor, Thais Oliveira and Alex Frazier contributed seven points each for while Raven Johnson led the squad with eight rebounds.
Head Coach Heather Macy
“I think that we played one of the best first quarters that we have played tonight and probably the worst third quarter we have played all season. I thought that the place Kristen Gaffney played with in the first gave everyone else some confidence. Thais, Justice, Raven and Dom had really good effort. It’s good and it’s really there. Now, can we add some execution and recognition to that effort? And we have got to as we finish this stretch up.”
Macy on Gaffney’s strong start:
“She had 10 points in the first and I tell you, I think that it was the way that she played aggressive on the catch. You know they were doubling but I think she was catching and ripping and playing. You sit there and you go, you’re getting the right amount of shots and in the second half I thought we did a better job keeping them off of offensive rebounds. But, we have got to do a better job of having this really bad quarters that puts us in these holes that you just can’t recover from.”
On ECU’s offensive rebounds:
“I think that we are being really aggressive and we shot a really low percentage so there was a whole lot of those to go and grab.”
On team’s season-low turnovers:
“Listen, it’s not getting easier and we have got to respond. What I just said to them is, it’s mentality at this point. It is a find a way situation and we have got to decide if we are going to find a way. Cause if not the result is going to continue to be like this.”
Memphis took an early lead after making its first seven field goal attempts but Alex Frazier tied it 15-all at the media timeout with 4:23 to play. After the break, Frazier made a free throw giving ECU its first lead of the game, 16-15. The Pirates forced four Memphis turnovers down the final three and a half minutes of the quarter to lead 24-21 at the end of the frame. East Carolina shot 47.6 percent from the field while the Tigers shot an impressive 75.9 percent from the field.
Despite Memphis opening the quarter with an 11-2 run, the Pirates battled back. ECU was fueled by a 6-0 run to lead 35-34 with just over a minute and a half to play in the quarter. A layup just before the buzzer by Brianna Porter gave Memphis a 38-35 lead at the half. East Carolina shot 45.5 percent from the field and held the Tigers to 27.8 percent. Kristen Gaffney led the Pirates with 13 points in the first half while Raven Johnson added six points and four rebounds. The Purple and Gold shot 46.9 percent overall in the first half.
Memphis opened with a 7-2 run in the third quarter and led 45-37 at the media timeout with 4:31 to play. ECU was held scoreless for the final three minutes and forty seconds of the period to trail Memphis 55-40 after the Tigers closed on an 8-0 run. The Pirates shot 14.3 percent in the quarter (2-for-14) while Memphis was 50 percent from field goal range (6-for-12).
East Carolina struggled to get things going in the fourth, scoring just eight points from the field (4-for-11) and a pair of free throws for 10 points in the frame. Memphis scored 17 and led by as many as 25 with under two minutes to play in regulation. The Tigers held on for a 72-50 win after keeping the Pirates scoreless for over four minutes in the period. East Carolina shot 36.4 percent in the final quarter but just 24 percent in the second half combined with 15 points.
East Carolina remains on the road to face UCF on Saturday in Orlando. The Knights are coming off an upset win over in-state AAC foe No. 22 USF. Tip-off is slated for 2 p.m. on the American Digital Network.