Pirates fire flames meet Virginia on Sunday

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The East Carolina women’s basketball team defeated the Liberty Flames 72-64 Saturday in the team’s first game of the Cavalier Classic at John Paul Jones Arena in Virginia.

The Pirates will be back in action on Sunday when they take on the Virginia Cavaliers at 2 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ACC Network and online on ACC Network Extra.

Four Pirates scored in double figures that day, led by Alexsia Rose with 18, while Brittany Franklin scored the second double-double for an ECU player this season.

The game was one of sprints. The first quarter was a back-and-forth, with the Pirates (5-1) narrowly leading 20-18. In the second quarter, the team used excellent defense – highlighted by a block from Amiya Joyner that forced a shot clock violation and two steals from Rose – and a trio of long-range buckets from Rose to move to a 12-point lead with less than three minutes to play in the phase before a quick 10-0 run from Liberty cut the lead back to 2 at the break.

The Flames (2-3) used their downtown skills to get back in the game, knocking down five three-pointers in the first half.

The Pirates continued to connect defensively in the third quarter, holding Liberty to just seven points – including a lone Flames field goal for the final 7:29 of the period. ECU scored 11 points of their own in the quarter to increase the lead to six. The Pirates did so largely through the offensive glass, where the team racked up nine offensive rebounds and scored nine second-chance points in the third.

In the second half, however, the story was simple: Brittany Franklin reminded everyone why she’s here. Franklin was just phenomenal. In just 11:40 minutes she collected 10 rebounds and hit the ball confidently in the basket and scored 11 points. Four of Franklin’s rebounds came on the offensive glass.

In order not to just stop attacking, the older forward blocked two shots and recorded a steal in the second half of the ball game. In a moment when ECU was looking for a spark in a tight game, they found it in Franklin.

Along the way, the pirates removed the game from the charity strip. With Liberty forced into difficult positions, ECU made 20 shots from the foul line and converted 16 of them in the fourth quarter. 38 in-game free throw attempts is the most for ECU since December 13, 2013 in a contest against Alcorn State.

The Pirates outplayed a typically dominant rebounding team 45-44, including a whopping 24 offensive boards, resulting in 25 second chance points for the game. The team scored 23 points from turnovers while spitting the ball themselves just seven times — the lowest total in a game since March 12, 2014 against Florida International.

The win puts the Pirates 5-1 in the season, the program’s best start since 2018-19, when the team matched the same record in six games.