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East Carolina 76, Coastal Carolina 51

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Inside Game Day
Monday, December 19, 2011

By Al Myatt

Pirates play like pros on semester break

By Al Myatt
All rights reserved.

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GREENVILLE — That wasn't Milligan or Coker that East Carolina was playing Monday night in Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum.

It was Coastal Carolina, a program guided by former Clemson and Auburn coach Cliff Ellis. The Chanticleers came in with a 9-1 record that included a 71-63 win at home over LSU and a 60-59 win at Clemson. The only stumble had been a 64-62 loss at Florida International.

East Carolina didn't just get a non-conference win during semester break on Monday night. The Pirates rolled to a 76-51 triumph over a team with some credentials.

The outcome came three nights after ECU erased a double-digit deficit on the road in the second half to top UNC-Greensboro 71-62.

There are signs that the Pirates' new pieces are coming together and that there may indeed be some continuity after coach Jeff Lebo's first season produced an 18-16 record with many milestones.

"That team will win some games in Conference USA," Ellis said.

Transfer Shamarr Bowden made 5 of 8 from beyond the 3-point line as he led all scorers with 17 points. Miguel Paul, another transfer, exhibited winning numbers at the point. He was 4-for-8 from the field, 2-for-3 behind the arc and 5-for-5 at the line. In addition to his 15 points, his assist-to-turnover ratio was a sparkling 6-to-1. Another of ECU's new faces, forward Maurice Kemp, tallied 13 points. Old faithful senior post player Darrius Morrow had 12 points and a team-high six rebounds.

"We got what we needed and what we're going to have to have, which is four guys scoring," Lebo said. "Shamarr and Kemp at the third and fourth scoring spots did a nice job. We got solid play off the bench."

Erin Straughn rounded out the starting lineup, contributing five points and four rebounds. Corvonn Gaines also had five points along with two assists and two steals. Another transfer, Austin Steed, had five points and four rebounds in 12 minutes.

Both coaches thought ECU's reliance on zone defense was a key factor. Lebo said the Pirates wanted to keep Morrow out of foul trouble against Coastal's effective inside scorers.

"We didn't expect the zone that early," Ellis said. "The zone just stymied us. We had 12 turnovers in the first half and that led to 17 points. Add 3-for-21 shooting (Coastal's performance from long distance) and it doesn't add up to a good recipe."

Ellis said his team had not played that poorly this season but he subsequently qualified the statement.

"Tonight (East Carolina) played better than anybody we've played thus far," he said.

Lebo said the Pirates had two good practice sessions after the win in the Greensboro Coliseum on Friday night.

"That's often an indicator that you're going to play well," said the ECU coach.

ECU made 25 of 53 shots from the field (47.2 percent), 8 of 18 from three (44.4 percent) and 18 of 21 free throws (85.7 percent).

"It was nice to see shots going in," Lebo said.

With exams completed and no classes until next month, the players are abiding by Lebo's instructions on how to approach the game.

"I credit this break as well with how we're shooting," Paul said. "Coach Lebo tells us to work like a pro now since there's no school. We get up and play basketball and enjoy each other's company. The break has really helped us. ... Everybody's staying after practice shooting."

That was the approach that Jontae Sherrod took last season in emerging as a team leader.

"That's what I tell 'em, when finals are over you go pro for a month," Lebo said. "All you have to worry about is how to become the best basketball player and how we can become the best basketball team. We want to work like a pro. We want to act like a pro. We want to play like a pro and do what a professional player would do. Our guys are good kids. They come to practice every day. I love coaching them. They want to get better so it's fun to go every day.

"They want to work. They want to come in and watch film. They want to do the extra things."

Lebo said that there are no schedule conflicts with the women's hoops team or volleyball at the moment for use of the arena, a developmental situation that will become the norm when a new $15 million practice facility is in place.

The ECU train pulled out of the station in a hurry on Monday night, leaving Coastal on the platform. The Pirates jumped on top 22-8 and had answers for every Chanticleer mini-run.

Back-to-back threes by Bowden and Paul pushed the Pirates lead to 47-25 with 15:03 remaining. When Coastal closed within 48-34 with a 9-1 spree, ECU responded with a three from Bowden and a hoop by Morrow on a feed from Gaines. The Pirates pushed the lead back to 22 points in the last five minutes and reserves actually extended the final margin.

ECU (6-4) will take a two-game winning streak into a 7 p.m. home game against Gardner-Webb on Thursday night.

"They're all big," Lebo said. "I never expected to come in and win by 25 points but it's a nice step and gives our kids some confidence. Now we just go on to the next one. It will be test for us to see if we can come out with some energy and some enthusiasm the next game. Typically, after a game that's a big win you can come out a little flat ... "



Date: Monday, Dec. 19, 2011
Place: Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum, Greenville, NC
Attendance: 4,175
Records: ECU 6-4; CCU  9-2

Coastal Carolina    23  28  -  51
East Carolina       35  41  -  76

 # PLAYER                    FG   3PT    FT  R PTS MIN
.........................    ..   ...    ..  . ... ...
05 McLaurin, Sam....... f   5-8   0-0   1-2  7  11  30
15 Gradnigo, Chris..... f   3-8   0-2   1-1  4   7  25
40 Pack, Jon........... c   1-6   0-0   0-2  7   2  26
02 Raffa, Anthony...... g  5-12   1-5   3-3  3  14  33
55 Greenwood, Kierre... g   3-3   1-1   2-2  2   9  21
00 Gillis, Warren........   2-5   0-1   0-0  1   4  18
01 Crawford, Brandon.....   0-0   0-0   0-0  0   0   3
03 Nieman, Danny.........   1-4   1-3   0-0  3   3  25
11 Moore, Dexter.........   0-5   0-5   0-0  1   0  11
32 Addey, Bisi...........   0-0   0-0   1-2  0   1   2
34 Griffin, Jordan.......   0-4   0-4   0-0  2   0   6
TEAM.....................                    3
TOTALS................... 20-55  3-21  8-12 33  51 200
PERCENT..................  36.4  14.3  66.7

 # PLAYER                    FG   3PT    FT  R PTS MIN
.........................    ..   ...    ..  . ... ...
01 Morrow, Darrius..... f   5-9   0-0   2-2  6  12  30
02 Kemp, Maurice....... f   3-7   0-2   7-8  4  13  22
00 Paul, Miguel........ g   4-8   2-3   5-5  0  15  27
20 Bowden, Shamarr..... g   6-9   5-8   0-0  2  17  31
23 Straughn, Erin...... g   2-4   1-2   0-0  4   5  27
03 Torlak, Petar.........   0-0   0-0   0-0  0   0   2
10 Edosomwan, Francis....   0-0   0-0   0-0  1   0   1
11 Gaines, Corvonn.......   2-3   0-0   1-2  2   5  20
12 Sampson, Robert.......   0-2   0-0   2-2  3   2  15
22 CAMPBELL, Paris.......   0-4   0-3   0-0  1   0  11
25 Steed, Austin.........   2-5   0-0   1-2  4   5  12
35 Morales, Darius.......   1-2   0-0   0-0  0   2   2
TEAM.....................                    4
TOTALS................... 25-53  8-18 18-21 31  76 200
PERCENT..................  47.2  44.4  85.7

Fouled out: None
Technical Fouls: None
Officials: Karl Hess, Brian Shey, Tony Henderson

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01/03/2012 02:39:25 AM


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