ECU springs shocker on
From electronic and staff reports
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Burly junior forward
Darrius Morrow rumbled underneath and sharpshooting senior guard Jontae
Sherrod inflicted damage from the perimeter to power upstart
East Carolina to a stunning
75-70 overtime upset of No. 1 seed UAB in the quarterfinal round of the
Conference USA Tournament on Thursday in El Paso.
Morrow scored 22 points —
12 on free throws — and muscled down 14 rebounds, while Sherrod matched
Morrow's point total on 8-of-12 shooting, including 4-of-7 from 3-point
range, as the eighth-seeded Pirates eliminated the Blazers from the
tournament only five days after the regular season champs
trounced ECU 66-48 in Birmingham.
“Well it’s just an
unbelievable win for our team and our program," said first-year ECU
coach Jeff Lebo in the postgame press conference. "These kids continue
to amaze me with what they’ve done this year … playing against UAB who
we just played at their place last week and to come back and do what we
did against them."
A part of Lebo's game plan
was to avoid playing tentatively.
“I want our team to play
loose," he said. "I think in tournament play it’s always important that
you are playing with confidence and not playing tight. I thought we had
an advantage coming into this game because they had just played an
emotional game against us, they had just won Conference USA outright,
and had a heck of a celebration. To come back from an emotional game
like that to turn around and play the same team again is difficult.
"I felt that we were in a
good place but we still had to play the best team in the league, we
still had to perform.”
None of Morrow's points
was more important than the 6 he scored in overtime.
After freshman guard
Preston Purifoy's free throw put the Blazers up by one 42 seconds into
overtime, Morrow answered with a close in basket at the other end to
start a 7-0 run that pushed the Pirates out front 64-58 with 2:41 left.
ECU (18-14) prospered at
the free throw line from that point on, building the lead to as much as
11 with 35 seconds remaining. During the extra period, Morrow added four
points from the charity stripe and sophomore guard Corvonn Gaines
Gaines finished with 14
points to join Morrow and Sherrod in double figures.
UAB coach Mike Davis said
the Blazers had no answer for Morrow.
"“We had nobody to guard
him," he said. "The first game we played at their place, he didn’t have
any field goals. The last game we played him, he had 16 points. Tonight,
he made plays. They went to him every time in the post and we just had
no way to guard him.
"I thought Sherrod did a
great job of carrying them in the first half. He had 13 of their 29
East Carolina led at
The Pirates had a chance
to seal the win in regulation, but the Blazers made three free throws in
the final 13 seconds to bring about the game's 11th and final tie.
The outcome took some of
the luster off a career performance by UAB's Aaron Johnson. The senior
point guard scored 39 points, connecting on 12-of-22 from the floor and
14-of-17 from the free throw line.
Senior guard Jamarr
Sanders had 16 points and was the only other UAB player in double
ECU lost a key playmaker,
senior guard Brock Young, to an injury in the second half. Young went
down near the basket with a buckled knee on a fastbreak. His status was
not known at press time.
Davis didn't make excuses
after the loss, which leaves the Blazers (22-8) at the mercy of the
selection committee for an at-large invitation the the NCAA Tournament.
“They (East Carolina)
deserved to win the basketball game," he said. "They played a lot harder
than we did. They had 22 and 14 (points) from guys that needed to play.
We kind of lost our edge.
"Coach Lebo did a great
job with his basketball team. They were very prepared for us. They made
plays down the stretch. I thought we should have lost the game in
regulation. We made some plays to get into overtime. They were a better
basketball team than us.”
Morrow said he carried out
Lebo's mandate for the game.
“I just stayed with it,"
he said. "Coach just kept telling me to post up hard because we’re going
to come inside to you."
The Pirates advanced to
by defeating No. 10 seed Central Florida 75-60
in Wednesday's first round.
ECU will face perennial
league powerhouse Memphis, the No. 4 seed, in a semifinal matchup
tonight at 6:30 p.m. The teams split during the regular season. The
triumphed 61-58 on Jan. 8 in
Memphis while the Pirates
prevailed 68-57 in Greenville on
Tournament host and
third-seeded Texas-El Paso challenges No. 2 seed Tulsa in the other
semifinal at 4 p.m.
Today's semifinal matchups will be televised by CBS College Sports. The championship game, set
for a network broadcast by CBS, will be played on Saturday at 11:30 a.m.
The tournament champion
receives an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.
Even if it doesn't capture
the trophy, East Carolina may have played itself into contention for an
invitation to one of the other postseason tournaments. The Pirates have
won five of their last six games.
Regardless of outcomes
from here on out, ECU will finish the campaign with its first winning
season since 1996-97.
Conference USA Tournament Scoreboard & Schedule
CAROLINA 75, UAB 70 (OT)
Thursday, Mar. 10, 2011.
Event: Conference USA Men's Basketball Championship.
Place: Don Haskins Center, El Paso, TX.
Records: ECU 18-14; UAB 22-8.
SCORE BY PERIODS 1
2 OT FINAL
29 28 18 - 75
Alabama-Birmingham 25 32 13
EAST CAROLINA PIRATES
# PLAYER FG 3PT FT
R PTS MIN
01 Darrius Morrow...... f 5-13 0-0 12-16 14
21 Jamar Abrams........ f 1-6 0-3
5-8 5 7 40-
11 Corvonn Gaines...... g 2-8 2-5
8-12 2 14 39
23 Erin Straughn....... g 1-3 0-2
1-2 7 3 30
24 Jontae Sherrod...... g 8-12 4-7
2-2 3 22 29
10 Brock Young........... 0-5 0-1
3-4 1 3 24
12 Robert Sampson........ 1-3 0-2
2-4 3 4 18
33 Chad Wynn............. 0-0 0-0
0-0 2 0 2
TOTALS................... 18-50 6-20 33-48 45 75 225
PERCENT.................. 36.0 30.0 68.8
# PLAYER FG 3PT FT
R PTS MIN
03 Anthony Criswell.... f 1-2 0-0
2-2 5 4 28
32 Ovie Soko........... f 0-5 0-0
0-2 4 0 32
01 Aaron Johnson....... g 12-22 1-5 14-17 4
04 Jamarr Sanders...... g 5-17 4-11 2-2
11 16 40-
23 Dexter Fields....... g 1-6 1-6
0-1 5 3 38
02 Mike Jones............ 0-0 0-0
0-0 0 0 0+
05 Robert Williams....... 0-0 0-0
0-0 1 0 1
21 Beas Hamga............ 0-1 0-0
0-0 1 0 4
22 Cameron Moore......... 1-4 0-1
0-2 5 2 14
24 Preston Purifoy....... 0-4 0-2
4-7 5 4 11
25 Quincy Taylor......... 1-4 0-3
0-1 2 2 13
TOTALS................... 21-65 6-28 22-34 49 70 225
PERCENT.................. 32.3 21.4 64.7
Rick Hartzell, Hal Lusk, Kevin Mathis.
Technical Fouls: Morrow.
03/13/11 03:19 AM.
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