Orange women win on senior night 45-36 behind Harris 12 points

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Updated: February 15, 2020

Like many East Carolina basketball fans, Orange women’s basketball coach B.J. Condron cheers for the Pirates and roots really hard for UNC.

Condron can relate to what Roy Williams has gone through this year, except the Orange Lady Panthers won’t have any one-and-dones.

But they’ve had plenty of injuries, just like the Tar Heels.

On Friday night, Orange defeated Northern Durham 45-36 in its senior night game at Panther Gymnasium. Sophomore guard Aaliyah Harris had 12 points to lead the Lady Panthers. It was the 14th time this year that Harris scored in double figures.

It was the seventh time this year that Orange played without two starters from their opening night lineup against Granville Central on December 3.

Orange’s only returning starter from last year, sophomore Mary Moss Wirt, hasn’t played since December 12 against Carrboro because of a torn ACL. Wirt, who missed her 18th game of the season on Friday, is also likely out for softball, where she was Orange’s starting 2nd baseman last year.

Six Orange players have missed games this season due to injury or various other activities, but Condron believes the fact they still finished .500 against a formidable schedule is why he’ll remember them.

“This is a special group,” Condron said. “The way they’ve never got too down after losses. They’ve always gone and fought, even when we’re down in games. They always get in there and fight. There haven’t been many practices that I’ve been completely unhappy with in terms of effort and attitude.”  

Orange (11-11, 5-9 in the Big 8 Conference) will face Chapel Hill in the opening round of the Big 8 Tournament on Tuesday. The winner of Orange-Chapel Hill will face either Southern Durham or Northern in the semifinals.

After Northern led 7-6 at the end of the first quarter, sophomore Samantha George hit two 3-pointers, while Jala Rainey banked in another trey to push Orange’s lead out to 21-10. Northern closed out the first half with 5-0 run, including a 3-pointer from Afin Rahman and a lay-up from Maya Hood, who led all scorers with 15 points.

George, who had a strong game against Southern Durham on Wednesday, got extra minutes with senior Grace Andrews out of the lineup.

“She handled herself with some poise (against Southern) despite being a tough situation,” Condron said. “And it transformed into this game.”

George ended the third quarter with a lay-up at the buzzer to increase Orange’s advantage to 35-27. The Lady Panthers held Northern without a point for the opening 5:17 of the fourth quarter. Freshman center Erin Jordan-Cornell scored two layups during an 8-0 Orange run, which ended with a 3-pointer from Harris.

Jordan-Cornell finished with ten points.

With Andrews out, the only senior in uniform for Orange on Friday was Brenna Mehl, who scored the game’s opening field goal. Mehl, who has a four-point-six GPA, will study biomedical engineering at UNC or N.C. State. She has also been accepted at Notre Dame. She was also a member of Orange’s 2018-19 team, which finished 2nd in the Big 8 behind Hillside and reached the 3A State Playoffs.

ORANGE 45, NORTHERN DURHAM 36

NORTHERN DURHAM: Maya Hood 15, Zaria Pittman 5, Afia Rahman 8, Nia Boney 1, Deniya El-Amin 7.

ORANGE: Aaliyah Harris 12, Jala Rainey 7, Erin Jordan-Cornell 10, Jarmil Wingate 4, Brenna Mehl 2, Samantha George 8, Kately Van Mater 2.

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