Bonesville: The Authoritative Independent Voice of East Carolina
Daily News & Features from East Carolina, Conference USA and Beyond

Mobile Alpha Roundup Daily Beat Recruiting The Seasons Multimedia Historical Data Pirate Time Machine SportByte™ Weather


Put your ad message in front of 1,000's and 1,000's of Pirate fans. Call 252.637.2944 for flexible options & rates.




The Bradsher Beat
Wednesday, January 4, 2006

By Bethany Bradsher

Losing with substance keeps morale intact


Two wins were enough to produce a healthy dose of optimism for a few of the fans gathered to watch East Carolina take on Wake Forest at three Greenville sports bars.

With decisive victories over Limestone and UNC-Wilmington in their recent memory, Ritchie Hart was one Pirate follower in the hunt for another upset.

“I think it’s time,” said Hart, who was watching from Professor O’Cool’s. “Wake Forest, they almost lost to Richmond, and we just beat UNCW. I feel like they’re in it.”

Kirby Potter, who pulled his chair up near the large-screen TV at Tiebreakers, but at a safe distance from the small Wake Forest contingency across the room, said that he has followed ECU basketball for nearly two decades and hasn’t seen the Pirates handle the Seahawks as well as they did Saturday in all of those years.

“You always have hope,” Potter said. “With the way we’ve played in those last two games. We’ve out-scrapped people.”

But not everyone was swayed as the first half got underway. At his table at O’Cool’s, Verlin Henderson and his friends at his table scoffed at the concept of a Cinderella Tuesday.

“We think they’re going to get shellacked,” Henderson said. “They’re a young team. I think they need about three more years.”

During the first half, there was a feeling that ECU was just avoiding the inevitable. They stayed within five points, thanks to outstanding hustle from the ECU guards and the Demon Deacons’ offensive chilliness.

But it seemed that a run by No. 23 WFU was just around the corner.

Then halftime arrived — with just a one-point ECU deficit — and a newly animated visiting team took the floor. East Carolina seemed to take the ball away from WFU at will, and Demon Deacons like Justin Gray were struggling to find the basket from any place but the free throw line.

Midway through the half, with a 47-47 tie, the Fox Sports broadcasters made their first mention of the word “upset.”

The Pirates enjoyed three leads and seven ties during the half, and they threw a wet blanket over the Joel Coliseum crowd with 4:15 remaining, when an ECU steal led to a fast break basket just when the home fans were starting to sense a momentum shift.

Then Courtney Captain sunk a weighty three-pointer and the Pirates seemed poised to claim the upset that, for Pirates, would evoke memories of Marquette in 2004 and a 1999 football triumph against Miami. The Demon Deacons seemed to have all of the strikes against them: 21 turnovers, only 16 field goals, big man Eric Williams missing from the free-throw line and just eight points from Justin Gray.

“The Deacon fans are standing, but not cheering,” the FOX broadcaster said at this point. “They cannot believe what they are seeing.”

But two late-game mistakes — a traveling call and an errant pass from Captain — took the ball out of ECU’s hands, and the Pirates found themselves without second chances and with a 58-54 heartbreak.

The clichés about the home team sighing in relief and dodging a bullet were abundantly true. But in the final analysis it was a loss, not a near-win.

Still, while the harsh reality was that the trip to Winston-Salem dropped ECU’s record to 5-7, the intangible effect was that it gave plenty of fans a compelling reason to keep watching.

Send an e-mail message to Bethany Bradsher.

Click here to dig into Bethany Bradsher's Bonesville archives.

02/23/2007 01:12:41 AM

©2001-2002-2003-2004-2005-2006-2007-2008-2009-2010-2011-2012-2013 All rights reserved.
Articles, logos, graphics, photos, audio files, video files and other content originated on this site are the proprietary property of
None of the articles, logos, graphics, photos, audio files, video files or other content originated on this site may be reproduced without written permission.
This site is not affiliated with East Carolina University. View's Privacy Policy. Advertising contact: 252-349-3280; Editorial contact:; 252-444-1905.