By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay
The East Carolina Pirates, a proud team that reached the NCAA tournament last year out of the American Athletic Conference, lost by 37 points at home last weekend. The loss came at the hands of the nation’s No. 1-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks.
As a result, the Pirates wanted to make amends Tuesday night, and they did so by rolling in their AAC opener to an 82-54 victory over the UTSA Roadrunners. Karina Gordon scored 22 points and Danae McNeal added 20 for the Pirates (8-4, 1-0).
Gordon, a freshman from Hallandale Beach, Fla., hit six of nine shots from beyond the 3-point arc.
Missing a couple of key players, the Roadrunners (6-7, 0-2) never could get their game untracked at the Minges Coliseum, the home of the Pirates in Greenville, N.C. They had the game tied 8-8 early, but they watched as the Pirates made a blizzard or three pointers early and were no match for the home team.
UTSA was without senior forward Jordyn Jenkins and freshman guard Aysia Proctor. Guard Madison Cockrell led the Roadrunners with 13 points. Center Elyssa Coleman chipped in with 11.
East Carolina 8-4, 1-0
UTSA 6-7, 0-2
Wichita State at UTSA, Saturday, 2 p.m.
East Carolina continued to dominate defensively in the period, holding UTSA to 12 points. As a result, the Pirates cruised to a 62-36 lead after three quarters. McNeal imposed her will in the period with nine points, three assists and a steal for the Pirates.
The Roadrunners kept the Pirates off the scoreboard for much of the quarter but couldn’t score offensively. Consequently, the Roadrunners fell behind by as many as 27 with a little more than two minutes to go.
Gordon scored 17 points and added 11 as the East Carolina Pirates took a commending 45-24 lead on the Roadrunners at halftime.
Gordon knocked down five of East Carolina’s eight first-half 3-pointers. In all, she was five of nine from the field and five of seven from distance.
McNeal contributed on both ends, producing five steals and a block to complement her three of eight shooting on the offensive end.
The Pirates led by as many as 25 points at 41-16 with 3:36 remaining in the second quarter.
Playing without star forward Jordyn Jenkins and freshman guard Aysia Proctor, the Roadrunners didn’t have the firepower to match the Pirates.
East Carolina limited UTSA to nine of 33 shooting from the field and forced 16 turnovers. Elyssa Coleman led the Roadrunners with five points. Hailey Atwood and Idara Udo had four apiece.
The Pirates hit five three-pointers in the quarter and constructed a 14-4 run in the final five minutes to take a 25-13 lead.
Guard Karina Gordon knocked down three 3-points for the Pirates. Danae McNeal contributed on the defensive end with three steals. Both Gordon and McNeal finished the period with nine points.
UTSA had a tough time getting anything going, committing 10 turnovers and shooting 5 of 16 from the floor. Idara Udo had four points and three rebounds.
It’s been a long four days for UTSA in its first foray into the AAC.
In the team’s opener, the Roadrunners traveled to Philadelphia to play at Temple on Saturday afternoon. UTSA played the home team on even terms for three quarters. But soon after they rallied to lead by two early in the fourth quarter, they watched as the Owls went on a 20-5 run to the buzzer, claiming a 71-58 victory.
Afterward, the Roadrunners returned home and practiced Sunday, on New Year’s Eve, in San Antonio. They took a flight on Monday to North Carolina to get ready to play the Pirates, who won the AAC postseason title last year and played in the NCAA tournament.
UTSA played East Carolina without two of its top offensive players. Jenkins (knee) hasn’t played this season. In addition, the Roadrunners took the floor in Greenville without freshman guard Aysia Proctor. Proctor suffered an injury that required a trainer’s attention during Sunday’s practice.