Pirates respond with a win
After a brutal road loss on Saturday at Marshall, the Pirates bounced back to knock off the UAB Blazers last night in Birmingham, Ala., 91-85. The Pirates normally have an uphill battle as they dig an early hole and have to comeback, but ECU was in control of their game and they prevailed to win their 1000th game in the school’s history.
Never trailing by more than four points, the Pirates were in punching distance throughout the game and they maintained their halftime lead to close out the Blazers. With key free throw shooting and strong performances from the starters, ECU was able to take care of UAB and move to 3-2 in conference play and 12-6 overall.
Ty Armstrong led the way for the Pirates as he had his first career double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Miguel Paul helped the flow of the game, registering 12 points and dishing out 14 assists. With his quick hands, Paul also swiped four passes on the night. He showed why he was a preseason first team All-Conference selection, with only two turnovers and an impressive 7:1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
The first half was a back and forth game as neither team had a big advantage in any area of the game. If this was a boxing match, the first half amounted to a bunch of jabs being thrown but none really connecting. After a Jeff Lebo timeout at the end of the first half, Akeem Richmond came off a screen and hit a three pointer at the top of the arc to give the Pirates a six-point lead. Just seconds later, Terrance Jones drained a half-court heave for UAB to cut the ECU lead to just three at the intermission.
Late in the second half, the Pirates pushed their lead to 11 and had UAB up against the ropes. Against Marshall, ECU struggled shooting the ball but improved greatly facing the Blazers. The Pirates made 55 percent of their shots and connected on 10 of 17 three-point attempts. With Shamarr Bowden sidelined with an injury, ECU needed good shooting nights from Paris Roberts-Campbell and Akeem Richmond. They didn’t disappoint as Campbell had a season-high 16 points and shot 6-7 from the field, 4-5 from long range. Richmond came off the bench to hit four three-point jumpers as he finished with a solid 12 points.
Maurice Kemp hit important free throws to end the game for ECU. Even with his struggles turning the ball over, Kemp still made a big impact with 17 points and seven rebounds for the Pirates.
The recent road-losing streak had given Pirate Nation a cause for concern but the UAB victory will ease the tension.
The win over the Blazers was refreshing as the Pirates had to recover from the 21-point loss at the hands of Marshall less than a week ago.
Slow starts have crippled the Pirates all season and it wasn’t any different Saturday night in Huntington, W. Virginia.
Marshall pounced on the Pirates early and the Thundering Herd had a substantial lead before the Pirates were ready to play. With 10 minutes left in the first half, the Pirates had only managed four points. It took ECU another five minutes just to break the 10-point barrier. The Pirates had dug a 25-point deficit and never recovered as they barely made a dent in the Marshall lead. For the game, the Pirates struggled shooting the ball and the 32.8 percent shooting was the worst this season. The Pirates hit only 21 of their 64 attempts. Robert Sampson had a noteworthy game as he registered 10 points and tallied 17 rebounds.
Eventually, ECU fell to Marshall, 77-56. Marshall improved to 9-9 and the Pirates left the Cam Henderson Center with an 11-6 record, 2-2 in conference action.
After splitting the last two road games, the Pirates now return home to face the UTEP Miners in Minges Coliseum on Saturday night. Now sitting right in the middle of the Conference USA race, the matchup against UTEP is even more important as the Miners are 10-7 overall and 3-1 in conference action. Tip off on Saturday is set for 7 p.m.
Quote: With Wednesday’s victory against UAB, ECU now has 1,000 school wins and they have an overall record of 1000-1017. The Pirates are 45-38 under Jeff Lebo.