Pirates burned by poor shooting and turnovers, fall to Flames, 64-56
ECU connected on only 10-of-27 free throws and 6-of-31 attempts from long range
CUSA-fans.com has a new staff of team correspondents this year to help bring you, the fan, more detailed Conference USA sports coverage. Today, our ECU Correspondent Thomas "Bubba" Rosenbaum brings you a recap of the basketball game between East Carolina and Liberty.
Neither team was very sharp, as each shot poorly and turned the ball over excessively. The free throw shooting by both teams, but particularly East Carolina, was absolutely atrocious. The Pirates’ John Fields finished 2-of-12 from the line, which would even make Shaq shudder. The freshman’s misses were not even close, and one of his two successful attempts was banked in.
The Pirates, who received seven quick points from their lone senior Courtney Captain, took a 17-3 lead with 12:05 remaining in the first half. East Carolina missed out on several opportunities to extend that lead even further, as they turned the ball over five times in the next three minutes. It would go without a field goal for around eight minutes after building the 14-point lead.
Liberty’s Russell Monroe used a two-handed, fast break dunk to cut the ECU lead to ten at 17-7 with 8:54 remaining. The play got the small, but vocal crowd into the game for the first time. The dunk was the second basket in what would be a 14-3 run by the Flames over the next eight and a half minutes. Damien Hubbard’s putback of Larry Blair’s miss trimmed the ECU lead to 20-17 at the 3:39 mark of the first half.
East Carolina took a 26-21 lead into the lockerroom, but Liberty had all the momentum as the first half came to a close.
The Flames would carry that over and continue their run as the second half began. Larry Blair drilled a three-pointer and trimmed the Pirates’ lead to 28-26 with 18:16 to play.
The Pirates’ struggles would only grow. John Fields and Gabe Blair had to sit some due to foul trouble and East Carolina could not solve Liberty’s 2-3 zone. It became more and more dependent on their perimeter game.
It could not carry the load, as the Pirates only connected on four of their 19 attempts from behind the arc after the break.
The Flames only attempted four three in the second half, but that was because they didn’t need to as a result of dominating the paint. They outscored the Pirates 26-10 in the paint, which resulted in them shooting 16-of-26 (61 percent) in the half.
The Liberty guards did an excellent job of creating and breaking down the East Carolina defense. Alex McLean posted 15 of his 17 points in the second half and he could have had more if he could have hit his free throws. He also pulled down six boards for the Flames.
LU built its lead to as many as nine with 10:05 remaining.
Courtney Captain helped keep the Pirates close by draining two threes, the second of which cut the deficit to five at 46-41 with just over seven and a half to play. Taylor Gagnon pulled ECU within three at 46-43 with 6:59 to go.
The lead would teeter between four and seven the rest of the way. Darrell Jenkins pulled the Pirates within four at 64-60 with 1:31 remaining, but they would not score again.
East Carolina got outrebounded for the first time this season, as Liberty finished with a 47-37 advantage on the glass.
ECU’s defense held Liberty to 22 percent (7-of-31) in the first half, but the Pirates seemed to get lazier and lazier on that end of the court as their offensive struggles grew. They constantly gave up the baseline and allowed the Flames to penetrate the lane.
Courtney Captain finished with 16 points to lead the Pirates. Darrell Jenkins had 13.There is no rest for the weary, as East Carolina will travel to UNC-Wilmington on Tuesday night to face the Seahawks in a 7pm tip-off.