Pirates use late surge to shake Spartans, 72-64
East Carolina hits eight of nine free throws in final 2:37 to seal win
CUSA-fans.com has a new staff of team correspondents this fall 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 UNCG.
With 10:43 remaining in the game, East Carolina trailed UNCG by eight at 52-44. Up to that point, the Pirates’ defense had left something to be desired. ECU, which played a 2-3 zone for much of the night, had allowed UNCG too many wide-open shots through the first 30 minutes of the game. However, over the last ten minutes, the Pirates turned up the heat defensively and made the necessary plays on the other end to earn the 72-64 road win.
East Carolina (2-1) fell behind 10-0 early on, but then outscored UNCG 12-2 over the next 2:43 to knot the score at 12 with 14:06 to play. Junior Jeremy Ingram came off the bench and ignited the run, scoring eight points during that stretch.
The entire first half was nip and tuck, as there were several lead changes and neither team led by more than four. The Spartans took a 34-33 lead into the locker room following a three-pointer by Kendall Toney with 12 seconds to play in the opening half.
The second half began much like the first, as the Spartans started strong and used a 13-5 run to build a 47-38 lead with 15:24 to go.
UNCG was still leading by eight with 10:43 to play, but that is when the Pirates began to tighten the screws defensively and the Spartans began to struggle shooting the basketball. They would only shoot 3-for-21 for the remainder of the game and at one point missed ten consecutive shots.
ECU pulled within three at 52-49 with 9:19 remaining in the game when Jeremy Ingram drilled a three-pointer from the corner in front of the Pirates’ bench.
Over the next three minutes, Darrell Jenkins would score five points, which included a pair of free throws that gave the Pirates the lead at 54-53.
East Carolina built the lead to three on its ensuing possession when Jenkins threw an alley-oop pass to freshman John Fields, who slammed it home with authority and brought the couple hundred Pirate fans in attendance to their feet. The fastbreak was started by Fields’ play on the defensive end when the long-armed freshman blocked a shot that was collected by Jenkins. Fields finished with five blocked shots in the game.
UNCG tied it up at 60 with 2:37 to play on Dwayne Johnson’s steal and subsequent lay-up.
The Pirates controlled things the rest of the way, outscoring the Spartans 12-4 over the final two and a half minutes. They built their lead to as many as ten (71-61) and extinguished all hope for UNCG by doing something they hadn’t done all night—hit their free throws.
Overall, the Pirates didn’t play that well, but to their credit they were able to find a way to win.
Jeremy Ingram was largely responsible for ECU remaining in the game in the first half. In the second half, some other players stepped their games up and the Pirates buckled down on the defensive end.
Offensively, the Pirates need to shoot the ball much better, particularly from the perimeter. Darrell Jenkins does manage the game pretty effectively and does a good job of creating opportunities; however, he is still taking too many ill-advised shots and forcing the issue at times.
Defensively, ECU must play the entire game with the intensity that it played the last ten minutes. The Pirates did a solid job on UNCG’s horse Kyle Hines. Hines, who had scored 38 points against Marshall, was held to 13 points and was only 5-of-14 from the floor. Dwayne Johnson also had 13 points for the Spartans.
ECU shot 42 percent from the floor while holding UNCG to only 35 percent.
Jeremy Ingram and Darrell Jenkins paced the Pirates with 19 points each. Ingram connected on 3-of-5 from behind the arc. Jenkins also finished the game with eight rebounds and seven assists.
Courtney Captain also reached double-figures for the Pirates, recording ten points and seven rebounds.
East Carolina rebounded well, as they held a 46-37 advantage on the boards in the contest.
Both teams shot free throws poorly. ECU was 17-of-29 in the game while UNCG was only 14-of-24. The difference was that the Pirates were able to make them down the stretch to close the door on the Spartans’ hopes of winning their home opener.
The Pirates now return home to Williams Arena-Minges Coliseum on Tuesday night for a 7pm tipoff against Division II Limestone College from Gaffney, SC.
There will be a preview of this game, as well as the Pirates’ Sunday, November 26 th match-up against Division II North Carolina Central posted on Monday evening.