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Women’s Basketball Preview: East Carolina

Bearcats to begin conference play down in Greenville, NC

East Carolina v South Carolina Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The Cincinnati Bearcats women’s basketball team heads down to Greenville, North Carolina this Saturday for a 5 PM match-up with the East Carolina University (ECU) Pirates.

The game will be televised live online at GoBearcats.com with our good friend Matt Noonan on the call.

This will be the 8-5 Bearcats’ first league game during the 2017-2018 American Athletic Conference (AAC) season. Cincinnati enters AAC action after a strong, home court heavy non-conference slate. The Bearcats are led by their senior co-captains, power forward Shanice Johnson and point guard Ana Owens, both of whom will contend for all-conference honors this season.

Junior guard Nikira Goings and freshman forward Iimar’i Thomas have been offensive strong contributors in the early going for a Bearcats team that mixes youth and experience.

The 7-5 East Carolina Pirates, who are led by eighth year coach Heather Macy, are poised to be one of the AAC’s most improved teams. Last year, the Pirates struggled to their second consecutive losing season, posting an 11-19 mark overall and a 2-14 record in conference play.

If ECU takes a large step forward in 2017-2018, it will be due in large part to their freshman phenom Ariyana Williams, who was one of North Carolina’s most highly prized high school players last season. In the Pirates’ last game before Christmas, Williams poured in 34 points in a 103-37 Pirates win against an overmatched Savannah State club.

The speedy and slick shooting Williams is joined in ECU’s backcourt by junior Alex Frazier, a prototypical point guard who combines superior court vision with a toughness that permeates her game on both ends of the floor.

Keeping Williams and Frazier in check will be the tall task required of UC to come away from Greenville with a victory.

ECU’s frontcourt is still in the midst of finding its identity. Bearcats Johnson and Thomas should be to exploit this to Cincinnati’s advantage.

Down the Drive will provide full post-game coverage of this AAC matchup.