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Pirates survive high drama in Birmingham

By The Associated Press

BIRMINGHAM — Japhet McNeil hit four free throws in the final 35 seconds and East Carolina survived a scare at the buzzer to upset UAB 67-64 on Wednesday.

McNeil's final two free throws gave East Carolina a 67-64 lead with 4.3 seconds left. UAB moved the ball down floor quickly and Richard Jones got off a 3-point shot at the buzzer that fell well short.

But McNeil was whistled for a foul on the shot, giving Jones three free throws with no time left on the clock. The first free throw bounced off the front of the rim, ending the game.

Freshman guard Tom Hammonds scored 16 points to lead East Carolina (8-16, 3-9 Conference USA). Corey Rouse added 12 points and 13 rebounds for the Pirates.

Marques Lewis scored 17 points for UAB (16-8, 6-5). Donell Taylor added 12 points and Caldwell ``Squeaky'' Johnson had 10 for the Blazers, who lost their third game in a row.

The victory was East Carolina's first on the road this season.

For much of the night, it looked like the Pirates would come up short again. UAB led by as many as 10 points in the first half and went into intermission with a 35-32 lead.

The Blazers built another 10-point lead early in the second half. But East Carolina battled back to take a 59-57 lead when Moussa Badiane scored six points in a row.

UAB tied it at 59-59, but Rouse worked inside for a layup to give East Carolina a 61-59 lead with just under three minutes left. The Pirates stayed in front the rest of the way, thanks to McNeil's clutch free throw shooting.

With the upset of the Blazers, the Pirates improved their chances of securing one of the 12 spots in the 14-team league's tournament by performing well in their final four regular season games.

East Carolina will continue its road swing with a C-USA game at South Florida on Saturday. Tip-off for the contest is 7 p.m.

After battling the Bulls, ECU will close out its slate with home games against Southern Miss on Wednesday, Feb. 23, and Houston on Saturday, Feb. 26, and a season-ending matchup at Tulane on Saturday, Mar. 5.

Memphis will serve as the host for the conference tournament Mar. 9-12.



Records: ECU 8-16, 3-9; UAB 16-8, 6-5.
Halftime: UAB 35-32.

Name           FG      FT   Pts
Rouse         3-6     6-7    12
Badiane       2-2     5-6     9
Kilgore       4-8     0-1     8
Hammonds      6-7     1-1    16
Cook         2-11     1-2     7
McNeil        0-5     7-8     7
Gagnon        0-0     0-0     0
King          0-1     0-0     0
Hart          0-0     2-2     2
Castro        3-4     0-0     6
Totals      20-44   22-27    67

Name           FG      FT   Pts
Lewis        7-11     3-6    17
Eddins        1-4     0-0     3
Johnson       4-9     0-2    10
D. Taylor     4-12     4-4    12
McDonald      2-7     2-2     7
Delaney       1-3     3-4     5
Holmes        0-3     0-2     0
Little        3-3     0-1     6
Jones         0-2     2-3     2
Broom         0-3     0-0     0
Tobias        1-1     0-2     2
Totals      23-58   14-26    64

3-Point goals: East Carolina 5-10 (Hammonds Jr. 3-3, Cook 2-3, Kilgore 0-1, King 0-1, McNeil 0-2); UAB (Johnson 2-6, Eddins 1-2, McDonald 1-6, Jones 0-1, Broom 0-2, D.Taylor 0-3).

Fouled out: Badiane, Lewis, D. Taylor.

Rebounds: East Carolina 38 (Rouse 13); UAB 30 (Eddins, Holmes, D.Taylor 5).

Assists: East Carolina 9 (McNeil 4); UAB 13 (Johnson 4).

Total fouls: East Carolina 23, UAB 20.

Technical fouls: None.

Attendance: 4,378.

02/23/07 10:56 AM

©2005 The Associated Press and All rights rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. contributed to this report.


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