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From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, January 29, 2013

By Brian Bailey

Brian Bailey

Toughest of losses in more ways than one


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Toughest of losses in more ways than one
Audio: WTIB (TOT: Brian Brown)
Spied from the Crow's Nest
Web Headlines Roundup
Fifteen Questions for Jeff Hoffman
UTEP drops buzzer bomb on Pirates
Pirates prep for battle-tested UTEP
Football recruiting thumbnail (WR Trevon Brown)
Pirates bounce back with road win
Smith is the right man for the job
Pirates run aground in West Virginia
Audio: Coach Ruff press conference
Audio: Rick Smith press conference
ECU Football Game-by-Game
ECU Basketball Schedule
ECU Recruiting Year-by-Year

By Brian Bailey
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This one will sting for a while.

East Carolina led Texas-El Paso most of the game and had a two-point advantage after Miguel Paul’s driving layup with 4.4 seconds to play.

After a time out, the Miners raced the basketball down the floor and McKenzie Moore fired up a long three pointer that swished through the net.

Just like that, victory turned into defeat. A win, a huge league win at home against one of Conference USA’s best, was suddenly a heartbreaking loss.

UTEP 68, East Carolina 67 was the final score. The loss will certainly sting for a while.

"It was a heck of a basketball game and heartbreaking loss for us," said ECU coach Jeff Lebo. "You kind of feel like you have it, and then getting it taken away from you like that is tough.”

UTEP coach Tim Floyd, who was ejected from the game in his last visit to East Carolina, knew his team was fortunate to win.

“I feel very fortunate obviously,” said Floyd. “Anytime you make one like that to end, you just feel like you’ve got a horse-shoe up your tail. We threw one in and it was great, a great win and a very spirited locker room obviously. Our young team needed something like that.”

Lebo’s Pirates certainly didn’t need one like that.

"We've had some emotional and exciting wins here and I thought we might be able to pull off another one here in this game,” he said. “Give them credit, they made the play at the end, a 35-footer at the buzzer."

East Carolina trailed for only 53 seconds of the game. The Pirates had their chance, despite playing shorthanded late.

Four players had early exits from the game. Ty Armstrong and Marshall Guilmette fouled out. Robert Sampson went down with a knee injury that could sideline him for a while. Shamarr Bowden was whistled for a flagrant foul and ejected after throwing a couple of punches at UTEP's Konner Tucker.

“I thought we’d be able to pull off another one (an exciting win at home) here in this game... and overcoming a lot of adversity with not having guys," said Lebo. "Robert gets hurt, Ty Armstrong fouled out and Shamarr's flagrant two, so he’s out of the game.

“We have four guys that are out but found a way to make some plays at the end. But give them credit. They make the play at the end with a 35-footer at the buzzer. We had opportunities in the last few possessions. We are up four and missed a shot and can’t come up with the rebound. They get the ball back with maybe 20-30 seconds to go, they run an inbounds play and get the bucket.

"Those kinds of plays are ones you have to be able to finish them off. We couldn’t get the ball that we needed to just finish off the game and that was frustrating.”

Bowden's one-two punch had repercussions within the program on Monday. The senior guard from Greensboro was suspended for one game by Lebo, a punishment that was accepted by Conference USA.

"I'm very disappointed in Shamarr's actions Saturday night," Lebo stated in a press release from the school's athletics media relations office. "There is no place for that in our sport and we don't tolerate it in our program.

"His behavior was very uncharacteristic, but unfortunately he let his emotions get the best of him. Shamarr is very remorseful about his conduct and understands the consequences. I know he'll use this as a constructive learning experience to become a better player and better man."

Bowden was contrite over the incident

"I apologize to Konner [Tucker] for my actions Saturday night," Bowden stated. "I also apologize to the Miners, my coaches, my teammates, fellow students and the fans. I'm deeply sorry for losing my composure and not controlling my emotions. In the future I will continue to compete hard and display better sportsmanship toward everyone."

The play occurred with 12:30 to play. Guilmette slammed home a follow shot and hung on to the rim to avoid the players below. Bowden threw two punches at Tucker that were caught on camera and played over and over on the game broadcast.

The Pirates have no time to sulk. Memphis comes to town on Wednesday night, and the Tigers are unbeaten in Conference USA play.

Often it’s how teams handle defeat that determines how much success they have down the stretch.

The Pirates have another great opportunity on Wednesday night. Memphis is 16-3 on the season and 5-0 in Conference USA.

It’s yet another chance to make some real noise in the league as February beckons.


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01/29/2013 04:31 AM


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