KENNESAW, Ga. — Senior Thais Oliveira turned in a near-perfect performance on Monday to lead the East Carolina women’s basketball team to a fourth straight victory.
Oliveira, a 6-2 center from Brazil, hit all nine of her shots from the field and 4 of 5 free throws on the way to a career-high 22 points in a 66-56 win over Kennesaw State. She also had nine rebounds, three assists, three blocks and two steals.
Oliveira scored 14 points in the second half as ECU (5-4) rallied from a 25-22 deficit. The Owls fell to 3-7.
“(You’ve) got to talk about Thais; man she was good tonight,” ECU head coach Heather Macy said. “After the first quarter I told her that no one can guard her. We had to throw the ball to her. She played so well with so much confidence, and she made even more plays that’s not even showing up in the box score.”
Freshman guard Ariyanna Williams matched a career high with 15 points. Junior Alex Frazier, junior Destiny Campbell and sophomore Dominique Claytor added seven points each.
The Pirates, who played three games in five days, now get a break for exams until hosting N.C. Central at 11:30 a.m. on Dec. 14.
“I wasn’t sure how our legs would be with three games in five days, but I think we saved our best one for our last one.,” Macy said. “That’s the biggest message that we talk about all the time, and we’ve implemented this sprinting program into the end of practice, and I heard the girls referencing it in the huddle saying, ‘This is why we do this; let’s be the best in the fourth.’ It was by far our best, and the second half was much improved. We needed this win as we are going into the exam period.”
The Pirates shot a season-best 48.1 percent (25 of 52) from the field, but hit just 2 of 11 from three-point range, 14 of 25 free throws and committed 28 turnovers. Kennesaw State hit just 32 percent (16 of 50) from the field and 3 of 11 from three-point range. The Owls were 21 of 26 from the free throw line but committed 30 turnovers, which ECU converted into 26 points.,
The Pirates took an early 7-2 lead but trailed 18-16 at the end of a first quarter that had five ties and four lead changes, ECU managed just four field goals in the second quarter, going nearly five minutes without scoring, and trailed 25-22.
Oliveira scored five points in an 11-2 run as ECU surged ahead 33-27. The lead grew to seven twice before the Owls closed the quarter with a 9-4 run to get within 43-41. Oliveira scored inside twice, and Williams hit a three-pointer early in the fourth quarter to push the lead to seven again.
Kennesaw State rallied to get within 53-52 on a pair of free throws by Walker with 4:13 to play but managed only four free throws the rest of the way. The Owls failed to score from the field the final 4:26.
Claytor’s layup and a three-point play by Oliveira started an 8-0 run that put the Pirates up 61-52. A free throw by Williams with seven seconds left capped the scoring and gave ECU its biggest lead.