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Red-hot Cards 'Stone' Pirates


The game story
and the post-game
audio, as penned and
digitally recorded by
Denny O'Brien.


Louisville's Marvin Stone battles with East Carolina's Gabriel Mikulas (51) during the second half, Thursday, Jan 16, 2003, at Minges Coliseum. Stone led the Cardinals with 23 points and nine rebounds in their 87-70 win.

(AP Photo: Karl DeBlaker)

By Denny O'Brien

Box Score

GREENVILLE — After Louisville finished polishing off East Carolina Thursday night for its 10th-consecutive win, any bitter memories the Cardinals had of their historic loss exactly one year ago in Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum seemed an afterthought .

What No. 15 U of L left behind in the aftermath of its 87-70 rout of the Pirates was a little history lesson of their own, one steeped rich with tradition and prestige.

In fact, there was very little red-hot Louisville (11-1, 3-0 Conference USA) didn't teach East Carolina (10-4, 1-0) on this cold and dreary January night. The Cardinals sizzled the nets from inside and out, in transition and out of their halfcourt set, and were sparked by outstanding production from a pair of superstars and a complimentary cast of reserves.

When the Cardinals' schooling of the Pirates was over — after senior sensation Reece Gaines banged in 22 points and dished out six assists, and bruising center Marvin Stone dropped in a game-high 23 points and pulled down nine rebounds — the reality and disappointment had set in.

"Obviously we got beat by a much better basketball team tonight," Pirates coach Bill Herrion said. "A much improved team from what we played here a year ago."

"They're good — and we did not have a lot of answers tonight. You've got to be so careful how you play them."

Clearly, Herrion's club wasn't careful enough, particularly on defense.

Led by Gaines (9-of-12) and Stone (9-of-11), the Cardinals proved deadly from the floor, nailing 58% of their shots. That percentage got a boost from a bushel of easy baskets, as Louisville dished out 19 assists while committing just nine turnovers.

East Carolina didn't share its guests' good fortune, finding the home rims less friendly en route to a 38% shooting effort. The Pirates were also a dismal 4-of-21 from behind the arc.

"Our man-to-man defense was awesome," Cardinals coach Rick Pitino said. "Our offense's distributing of the basketball was terrific. We kept finding open people. We didn't turn the ball over, which was key. We got people the shots they needed to get."

Indeed they did.

Regardless of who Pitino put on the floor last night, there never seemed to be a drop-off. Ten Cardinals worked their way into the scoring column, with nine of them contributing at least one assist.

The quicker, more athletic Cardinals were too much to handle for the Pirates' man-to-man defense, which was repeatedly shredded by the U of L guards.

"Obviously we don't have any answers right now for a Reece Gaines," Herrion said. "He's an NBA-caliber player. He's that good. He's hard to guard, but he's been doing that to everybody this year.

"They do a great job of spreading the floor, they do a great job with dribble penetration. They're so quick. That's what really showed tonight — their quickness."

Louisville also demonstrated how quickly it could turn the Pirates' dream of another upset into a nightmare. With East Carolina clinging to the slightest advantage at 15-14, the Cardinals hushed the charged-up crowd with 15-0 run that spanned five minutes.

Pirates guard Derrick Wiley ended the drought with a free throw, but by then it was too late.

"You start playing fast, you start shooting it quickly and not making shots, then you play right into their hands," Herrion said. "That's what the press does to you over the course of 40 minutes.

"If there's any positive to take out of this game from our standpoint, we didn't stop playing. There was a stretch where we could have lost the game by 40 points, if we made that decision."

East Carolina managed a second half run that sliced the Louisville lead from 31 to 14. The Pirates thought they had cut that lead down to 12 after a steal and quick basket off an errant cross-court pass, but the official blew the play dead ruling that Louisville had called a time out.

That enabled the Cards to stop the bleeding and hold off the resilient Pirates for good.

East Carolina was once again led in scoring by Wiley, who slashed his way to a 21-point night. Junior forward Erroyl Bing added 16 points to go along with a game-high 12 boards.

Even though another double-double offered no consolation for the loss, Bing said the Pirates can't afford to hang their heads.

"There are 14-15 games left in the season," Bing said. "We can't dwell on a loss too long.

"We're heading to Chicago on Sunday to play DePaul, which is a good team. We've got to come back, get our heads back together and move on."

BOX SCORE: Louisville 87, East Carolina 70

Louisville (87)

Player         FG      FT     PTS
Myles          3-6     0-4    6
Garcia         1-3     0-0    3
Stone          9-11    5-7    23
Dean           4-7     0-0    8
Gaines         9-12    2-2    22
Dartez         3-3     2-2    8
Northern       1-4     0-0    3
Naydenov       0-0     0-0    0
Whitehead      2-6     1-1    5
Brown          1-2     0-0    2
O'Bannon       3-8     0-0    7
George         0-0     0-0    0
Totals         36-62   10-16  87

East Carolina (70)

Player         FG      FT     PTS
Bing           4-12    7-12   16
Mikulas        3-9     6-8    12
Badiane        2-3     0-0    4
Rivers         1-10    0-2    3
Wiley          9-15    3-5    21
Mackay         0-0     0-0    0
Rouse          1-1     0-0    2
Moore          0-2     0-0    0
Holcomb-Faye   3-8     4-4    12
Totals         23-60   20-31  70

Halftime: Louisville 45, East Carolina 26.

3-Point goals: Louisville 5-15 (Gaines 2-3, Garcia 1-2, Northern 1-3, O'Bannon 1-3, Brown 0-1, Dean 0-3); East Carolina 4-21 (Holcomb-Faye 2-5, Bing 1-5, Rivers 1-6, Mikulas 0-1, Moore 0-1, Wiley 0-3).

Rebounds: Louisville 38 (Myles 11); East Carolina 37 (Bing 12).

Assists: Louisville 19 (Gaines 6); East Carolina 12 (Rivers 4).

Total fouls: Louisville 23; East Carolina 18.

Technical fouls: Stone.

Fouled out: None.

Attendance: 8,056.

Copyright 2002 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.

02/23/2007 01:51:02 AM

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