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Ole Miss gets dose of Minges magic


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


By Denny O'Brien

Box Score

GREENVILLE — East Carolina is making a habit of knocking off marquee programs at its intimidating home floor.

On Sunday, Ole Miss painfully etched its name among the growing list of humbled foes.

The Rebels marched into Greenville with four returning starters, six-consecutive postseason appearances, and high hopes of another stellar season.

But history, glamour, and glitz wouldn't be enough to propel the SEC visitors in their season opener, as East Carolina, behind a smothering defensive effort and balanced scoring attack sent the Rebels home wounded with a 65-58 loss at electric Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum.

"Obviously it was a great win for our kids — a great win for our program," Pirates coach Bill Herrion said. "I'm really proud of these guys.

"I like the look of this basketball team, but I've liked it from day one. These kids play very hard. They're very competitive. They thoroughly enjoy playing with each other and playing together."

The Pirates (2-0) certainly seemed in unison throughout the second half. Trailing by three at intermission, the Pirates traded baskets with the talented Rebels (0-1) before taking the lead for good at 34-32 on Moussa Badiane's lay in with 14:43 left.

Propelled by its tough man-to-man defense, East Carolina eventually built its lead to nine on Gabriel Mikulas' five-foot jumper with 2:43 left and sank enough free throws down the wire to smoke the victory cigar.

"(Coach Herrion) told us defense was going to win the game," Pirates point guard Travis Holcomb-Faye said. "Ole Miss is a great defensive team and we really couldn't run our offense much in the first half.

"The second half, we came in and settled down and got the ball in to Gabe (Mikulas) and Erroyl (Bing). On the defensive end, we just tried to lock up and get rebounds."

ECU did win the battle of the boards, out-rebounding the athletic Rebels 35-33. Forward Errol Bing paced the Pirates, ripping down six boards, four on the offensive end.

Bing also hit all five of his field goal attempts, finishing with 11 points. Mikulas and guard Derrick Wiley each tossed in 11 apiece, while Holcomb-Faye added ten, complimented by five assists.

Rebels forward Aaron Harper led all scorers, banging in 15 points, including three-of-six from behind the arc.

Badiane led the charge defensively for the Pirates, who forced 18 turnovers and limited Ole miss to 41 percent from the floor, swatting five shots while being limited to just 14 minutes due to foul trouble.

The sophomore center also made a number of key plays down the stretch to help seal the victory.

"He went and got a couple of defensive rebounds late in the game," Herrion said. "That is something he did not do last year. He also stepped up and made some big free throws.

"The thing we have to do with Moussa is we have to keep him out of foul trouble. We've got to keep him on the floor — he has such an impact on the game defensively."

The Pirates and Rebels played nip-and-tuck throughout much of the first half with neither team enjoying more than a six point margin.

Ole Miss held an early 13-7 advantage, but the Pirates battled back to take a 14-13 lead, then going back-and-forth with the visiting Rebels before heading into the locker room down 27-24.

"It was an opportunity game for East Carolina basketball," Herrion said. "To a play a quality, quality SEC team, a team that's been to the postseason six years in a row — five out of the six to the NCAA tournament, two years ago to the Sweet 16.

"If we're going to ever aspire — which we are — to be a postseason caliber team here at East Carolina in basketball, you've got to win games like that. You've got to take advantage of these opportunities and I thought our kids really responded down the stretch."

After playing two games in less than 48 hours, the Pirates have almost a week to prepare for their next outing, a home contest against former conference rival William and Mary next Saturday.

BOX SCORE: East Carolina 65, Ole Miss 58

Mississippi (58)
Player         FG      FT     PTS
Harper         6-9     0-0    15
Fox            0-2     0-0    0
Allen          4-15    3-4    11
Pearson        2-5     2-3    7
Sanders        4-6     2-2    10
Johnson        0-1     0-0    0
Nunnery        0-0     0-0    0
Reed           5-12    0-0    11
Wade           1-4     2-2    4
Rhodes         0-0     0-0    0
Totals         22-54   9-11   58

East Carolina (65)
Player         FG      FT     PTS
Bing           5-5     1-3    11
Mikulas        3-6     4-4    11
Rivers         4-12    0-0    9
Wiley          3-10    5-6    11
Holcomb-Faye   2-7     5-8    10
Mackay         0-0     0-0    0
Badiane        1-4     5-6    7
Moore          1-3     3-4    6
Totals         19-47   23-31  65

Halftime: Mississippi 27, East Carolina 24.

3-Point goals: Mississippi 5-15 (Harper 3-6, Pearson 1-1, Reed 1-3, Sanders 0-1, Johnson 0-1, Wade 0-1, Fox 0-2); East Carolina 4-13 (Mikulas 1-1, Moore 1-2, Holcombe-Faye 1-4, Rivers 1-5, Wiley 0-1).

Fouled out: Harper.

Rebounds: Mississippi 33 (Harper 7); East Carolina 35 (Bing 6).

Assists: Mississippi 14 (Sanders 4); East Carolina 8 (Holcomb-Faye 5).

Total fouls: Mississippi 26; East Carolina 20.


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02/23/2007 01:51:04 AM

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