East Carolina Wins a Knee-Knocker over Charlotte, 62-61
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Junior Darrius Morrow (11 points, eight rebounds, 3-of-4 free throws) connected on a three-point play with four seconds remaining. Helping ECU rebuttal their previous loss to Charlotte 74-63 at the Charleston Classic on November 19.
East Carolina (6-2) held their largest lead 59-50 with 4:53 to go in the game when Charlotte (3-5) sharp shooter Gokhan Sirin hit a big three for the 49ers, sparking an 11-to-0 run. Sirin's three with 15 seconds left gave the 49ers their first lead since the 10:53 mark.
Charlotte space eater, Phil Jones (14 points, 10 rebounds, 4-5 free throws), led the team in points, ironically fouled Morrow with four seconds remaining, followed by "D-Mo" hitting the game-winning free throw.
Morrow was asked after the game if he felt any nerves being put on the line to end the game. “Honestly, not really," he said. "I didn’t want to go into overtime and put all my focus into that one free throw.
“It was a good situation to be in, it added some toughness to my game.”
Senior Jontae Sherrod went off for the second straight game coming off the bench, playing 31 minutes. Sherrod led the way for the Pirates, finishing with 19 points, five rebounds, and was on fire knocking down five trifectas tonight.
"I'm just doing my job," Sherrod said. "Coach told me to be aggressive and shoot. So I came in shooting."
"I told Jontae before the game we were going to bring him off the bench," Coach Lebo said. "I don't know how he felt, [but] he acted ok."
Sherrod also came off the bench last game scoring 17 points and six rebounds, all in just 22 minutes of play. I am getting the vibe these guys are really starting to "buy" in to the unselfish system, something that Coach Lebo and the players have been preaching since Day 1.
Senior floor general Brock Young added 14 points and five rebounds while sharing the rock well, dishing out six assists.
Young talked after the game about the Pirates current four game winning streak. "It's a good winning streak. Since this summer we've been preaching that we want to have a winning season.
"We haven't had a winning season in 14 years and they say that every day and that's just a motivation in practice. We just go hard at it everyday in practice, try to get better as a team, as whole, and come play as a team. Not just one person trying to carry this team on their back."
These words from the Captain are an early holiday present for you Pirate fans, as it is easy to see this team wants to be a team. Everyone understands they have a certain role and that everyone can feed off each others bread and butter, rather than someone trying to do it all themselves.
East Carolina stepped it up on defense in the second half, holding Charlotte to 32 percent shooting, forcing Charlotte into long possessions which resulted into bad shot selections for the 49ers.
Coach Lebo acknowledged defense being the beneficial factor to keeping the Pirates in the game.
“Defense in a game were you’re not shooting the ball well, [we] didn’t shoot it very well in the first half, kept us in it in the second half until we could get that little bit of a run and that is going to be our emphasis for the whole year.”
Only guard Derrio Green joined fellow Niner Jones in double figures, finishing with 11 points, but forced three critical turnovers.
The Pirates started off streaky but finished strong on offense going 14-of-27 (51.9 percent) in the second half, finishing with a respectable 42 percent from the floor (24-of-57).
East Carolina will face with division II Fayetteville State on Saturday evening at 5 p.m. inside Williams Arena at Minge’s Coliseum.
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