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From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
By Brian Bailey

Better times ahead for Lady Pirates

By Brian Bailey
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It certainly wasn’t the game that Coach Sharon Baldwin-Tener had hoped for against Rutgers in the first round of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament.

Sure, we all knew that the Rutgers team was upset because it probably was good enough to be a No. 3 seed in the tournament. The Scarlet Knights were also probably a little ticked that their second round game was scheduled for East Lansing, most likely against home standing Michigan State.

Perhaps this Rutgers team decided to take all of those frustrations out on East Carolina’s Lady Pirates.

ECU came into the tournament as one of the field’s feel good stories for 2007. The Lady Pirates were making their first appearance in the Big Dance in 25 years. ECU was also riding a 10-game winning streak.

So, Coach Baldwin-Tener and company played the role of David against Rutgers as Goliath in this first round pairing.

Unfortunately, the Lady Pirates never found their sling shot, and Rutgers rolled to an easy 77-34 victory.

Coach Baldwin-Tener looked stunned after the game in her NCAA press conference.

“Give Rutgers a lot of credit," she said. "They have a great basketball team and they caused a lot of trouble for our team.”

East Carolina was a woeful 10-61 from the field. That’s 16 percent. That’s the number that first caught Coach Baldwin-Tener’s eye.

“I never would have thought that we would shoot 16 percent from the field,” Baldwin-Tener said. “I’m not sure if we were nervous. I do know Rutgers had a lot to do with that. I do know we missed some open shots that we should have made. I was a little disappointed because I think there were members of our team that gave up when we were down and that’s really not what we’re about.

"Regardless of what the score is, we should be playing hard."

East Carolina’s women win when they can run. They showed great quickness and skill during the 10-game winning streak that vaulted them into the NCAA tournament.

But on this night, the ladies couldn’t get anything going at all. They couldn’t shoot, they couldn’t rebound, and they simply weren’t in the game.

“I hate to go out like this,” said Baldwin-Tener. “We’re better then this. I know we don’t have a ‘Rutgers’ caliber of team, but we are better then we played tonight.”

Jasmine Young and Cherie Mills represented East Carolina in the NCAA’s post-game press conference.

“We just couldn’t get going,” said sophomore guard Young. “Usually when we get down we get a fire and can come back. But we just couldn’t get it going.”

The Lady Pirates have a very young team and hope to build on this experience for the future.

“I think my teammates will take this as a learning experience,” said senior Mills, who scored 13 points in her final game at East Carolina. “They’ll just use it to prepare for next year. I’m pretty sure this won’t be the last time you’ll see East Carolina.”

That was the same theme that Baldwin-Tener had for her team after the loss.

“One thing I said in the locker room is that we really had a good year, especially at the end of the year," recounted Baldwin-Tener. "We should feel good about it. We want to be a team like Rutgers. They had players that made shots with people in their faces. This summer, when we’re thinking we’re pretty good, we need to understand that there was a team we were guarding the last time out that was better than us.

"I’m really hoping with our young team that they are hungry to get back here but also to make it further then we did this year.”

East Carolina is very fortunate to have Sharon Baldwin-Tener at the head of the school’s women’s basketball program. Winners know how to create a winning attitude.

The Pirates lost to Rutgers on Sunday night. The program, however, is a winner, and will continue to get better and better.

The future is certainly a bright one.


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04/21/2008 07:02:32 PM


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