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Charlotte 76, East Carolina 64

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Inside Game Day
Saturday, December 3, 2011

By Al Myatt

Yesterday not good to Morrow

By Al Myatt
All rights reserved.

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GREENVILLE — Senior forward Darrius Morrow had never had a game at East Carolina in which he didn't score — not until Saturday evening in a 76-64 home loss to Charlotte.

It was a strange day indeed for the big guy from Atlanta, GA, who set a school record for free throws made (159) and attempted (239) last season when he averaged 13.0 points a game. He didn't get to the foul line once in Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum against the 49ers.

"We wanted to keep him off balance," said visiting coach Alan Major.

Charlotte (4-2) was physical and collapsed on the 6-foot-8, 245-pound Morrow, who didn't look anything like the player who scored 33 points last season at Marshall, an ECU record in a Conference USA game. Morrow was 0-for-8 from the field and compounded his personal misery with five turnovers.

"Darrius just struggled immensely," said Pirates coach Jeff Lebo who played his most productive returning player a game-high 36 minutes.

ECU struggled in a lot of areas. The Pirates were outscored 30-18 in the paint, 14-13 off turnovers, 16-9 on second-chance points, 15-5 on fast breaks and 31-27 in bench production.

No one else took up the slack on the interior for ECU, which probably led Lebo to hope that Morrow would break out of his Saturday slump at some point. Robert Sampson had two points in 24 minutes as he was hampered by an injured thumb. Austin Steed managed one basket in 13 minutes.

The Pirates are not achieving the sort of inside-outside balance that challenges opposing defenses. No one heated up from outside the arc as the inside game was constricted by Charlotte's 6-9 Chris Braswell (13 points, nine rebounds, five assists and three blocks) with help from Javaris Barrett (13 points and six boards) and K.J. Sherrill (seven rebounds).

There were times when the 49ers' interior passing was clinic quality.

ECU went 10-for-33 behind the arc. Despite a game high 22 points, Pirates point guard Miguel Paul made just 3 of 9 from long distance and 5 of 19 overall from the floor. He compensated by making 9 of 10 free throw opportunities. Erin Straughn was 2 of 5 behind the arc, former 49er Shamarr Bowden was 3 for 8 and Paris Roberts-Campbell was 2 for 9.

Little Jamar Briscoe, who is listed at 5-10 but appears smaller, gave Charlotte a spark. The guy nicknamed "Deuce" suddenly developed a hot hand from region three.

"He came in 2 for 15 and made 4 of 4 (3-pointers)," Lebo noted.

Briscoe played like he wanted to personally repay the Pirates for a 62-61 loss in Greenville last Dec. 1 in which Morrow made a free throw to complete a 3-point play with 3.8 seconds left for the winning margin.

What a difference 367 days made.

"I wish I knew," Lebo said of the solution to Morrow's difficulties. "He was just out of whack tonight. I've not seen him play like that in a long time. ... They mixed how they defended him. They were quick, athletic and strong. He's a little better sometimes with even bigger guys than guys his size and strength."

Morrow has been dedicated. He dropped about 35 pounds during the course of last season, became a team leader in the process and has kept the weight off, a factor that caused Lebo to count on him heavily this season.

Sometimes Morrow's production has been a function of his lack of involvement in the offense. That wasn't the case as ECU fell to 4-3 with only one win over a Division I opponent.

"We got him the ball a lot of different times," Lebo said. "He just wasn't effective when he got it."

Despite a boat load of troubles, a 66-47 deficit with 5:05 to go and some fans headed to the exits, the Pirates made a 16-3 run that got the remnants of the attending Pirate Nation excited.

Paul made the second of two free throws with 2:39 left to trim Charlotte's lead to 69-64 but the Pirates wouldn't score again.

"It was a frustrating night," Lebo said.

One difference for this ECU team is that the veterans have experienced a degree of success, going 18-16 in 2010-11 for the program's first winning record in 14 years. They've had a taste of winning, they know what it takes and that gives the group confidence that they can get things turned around with Massachusetts coming in on Tuesday night.

"We're still learning," Paul said. "We're a work in progress."

Bowden had 13 points for ECU. Straughn had 11 points and nine rebounds. Sampson had 11 rebounds and Morrow grabbed eight as the Pirates managed a 43-42 edge on the glass.

"We're getting the looks we want," Straughn said. "We've got to be able to score more consistently. ... It's a long season and it's early."

No one was throwing Morrow under the bus. He's more than earned his scholarship and it's a good bet that he will continue adding interest on the investment.

"They were doubling down on the post," Straughn said. "I'm pretty sure Darrius will come back even harder the next game."



Date: Saturday, Dec. 3, 2011
Place: Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum, Greenville, NC
Attendance: 5,273
Records: ECU 4-3; UNCC  4-2

Charlotte           26  50  -  76
East Carolina       25  39  -  64

 # PLAYER                    FG   3PT    FT  R PTS MIN
35 Braswell, Chris..... f   4-9   0-0   5-7  9  13  25
00 Barnett, Javarris... g  6-12   1-4   0-0  6  13  29
01 Green, Derrio....... g   1-5   1-3   0-0  2   3  16
11 Mayfield, DeMario... g   4-8   0-2   1-3  4   9  30
15 Henry, Pierria...... g   3-5   1-2   0-0  3   7  28
02 Sherrill, KJ..........   1-2   0-0   2-2  7   4  14
05 Nickerson, E. Victor..   2-6   0-0   1-2  4   5  18
10 Briscoe, Jamar........   5-8   4-4  5-10  1  19  18
14 Williams, Terrence....   0-1   0-1   0-0  0   0   4
44 Voncina, Luka.........   1-2   1-2   0-0  0   3  18
TEAM.....................                    6
TOTALS................... 27-58  8-18 14-24 42  76 200
PERCENT..................  46.6  44.4  58.3

 # PLAYER                    FG   3PT    FT  R PTS MIN
01 Morrow, Darrius..... f   0-8   0-0   0-0  8   0  36
12 Sampson, Robert..... f   1-4   0-0   0-2 11   2  24
00 Paul, Miguel........ g  5-19   3-9  9-10  3  22  32
11 Gaines, Corvonn..... g   1-3   0-1   0-0  1   2  18
23 Straughn, Erin...... g   4-8   2-5   1-2  9  11  27
02 Kemp, Maurice.........   3-4   0-1   0-0  3   6  17
20 Bowden, Shamarr.......  5-10   3-8   0-0  0  13  14
22 CAMPBELL, Paris.......  2-10   2-9   0-0  1   6  18
25 Steed, Austin.........   1-3   0-0   0-0  4   2  13
35 Morales, Darius.......   0-0   0-0   0-0  0   0   1
TEAM.....................                    3
TOTALS................... 22-69 10-33 10-14 43  64 200
PERCENT..................  31.9  30.3  71.4

Fouled out: None
Technical Fouls: None
Officials: Bryan Kersey, Mark Schnur, Alfred Smith

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12/04/2011 02:55:34 AM


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