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Mason puts Pirates' hot streak on ice


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


By Denny O'Brien

Box Score

GREENVILLE — Much of the buzz in Greenville Thursday centered around the anticipation of the naming of East Carolina's new football coach.

For two hours, though, that focus shifted to the hardwood, where history and the Pirates' unblemished record were on the line against former CAA rival George Mason.

But Christmas wouldn't come early for East Carolina, which would be stood up for its next date with the record books. Led by senior forward Jon Larranaga's career-high 29 points, the Patriots put a freeze on ECU's red-hot start, perhaps even providing a wake-up call with a 66-56 victory.

"We got beat by a better basketball team tonight," Pirates coach Bill Herrion said. "Period."

"We got beat by a team that was hungrier, that wanted the game more, that played the game of basketball with much more purpose and understanding than East Carolina did. Tonight really bothered me the way we lost this basketball game."

The Pirates (7-1) entered the game with an opportunity to run their record to 8-0 for the first time in school history, but were without the services of starting point guard Travis Holcomb-Faye, who was held out due to academic reasons. Freshman combo guard Belton Rivers assumed the floor general duties, but was highly ineffective, misfiring on all nine of his floor attempts, though he did dish out four assists.

Herrion, however, wouldn't offer Holcomb-Faye's absence as an excuse for his team's loss.

"It's not a factor," Herrion said. "We've got to play with the people that we have."

"In no way, shape, or form are we going to use that as an excuse. We've got to move on. The season doesn't stop; the season doesn't end. What happens is other people get opportunities."

Junior guard Derrick Wiley certainly took advantage of his chance to shine, pouring in a career-high 27-points. Wiley, who sank 11-of-18 from the floor, was the only Pirate in double figures. Junior forward Gabriel Mikulas added eight points to go along with a game-high 12 rebounds.

Sophomore guard Devin Boddie, who spelled Rivers at the point on occasion, performed solidly, tossing in four points, while dishing out three assists and grabbing two rebounds in 14 minutes.

Despite a couple of nice individual efforts, Herrion was displeased with the Pirates' performance, particularly down low.

"What I am disappointed with tonight is our frontcourt play," Herrion said. "I just felt coming into this game that if we had an advantage anywhere, it was in the frontcourt.

"They started two freshmen and they did a nice job. They were big, physical, strong kids and they bodied us, they got us off the post — they did a nice job."

East Carolina never seemed to find its rhythm against the underdog Patriots.

Offensively, the Pirates seemed flustered, hitting just 41 percent from the field and a dreadful 16 percent from behind the arc. At the other end, ECU couldn't make enough defensive stops, as Mason nailed 47 percent of its shots.

Larranaga, in particular, seemed unconscious at times, drilling 11-of-16 shots, including all three of his treys. His lay-up with just over two minutes to play upped the Patriots' lead to 60-51 and put the game out of reach.

"The kid Larranaga really, really killed us," Herrion said. "He's a good player. I don't know if he's 29-points good, but he's a very good, solid basketball player. He was averaging about 9.5 (points) coming into the game and we just had no answers for him.

Wiley kept the Pirates close during a nip-and-tuck first half, canning 20 points on 9-of-12 shooting. Larranaga led the charge for Mason, hitting 16 in the first stanza, including eight straight during one stretch that gave the Pats a three-point advantage at 31-28.

"I put on the blackboard after the game about three or four words," Herrion said. "I put 'outworked, out-hustled, out-scrapped, outplayed.' That's what I saw out there.

BOX SCORE: George Mason 66, East Carolina 56

George Mason  (66)

Player         FG      FT     PTS
Larranaga      11-16   4-4    29
Wurtz          1-5     0-0    2
Lewis          3-5     0-1    6
Heinen         4-11    4-4    13
Davis          2-9     4-7    10
Tynes          3-5     0-0    6
Harris         0-0     0-0    0
Cooper         0-0     0-0    0
Totals         24-51   12-16  66

East Carolina (56)

Player         FG      FT     PTS
Bing           3-9     1-2    7
Mikulas        3-6     2-2    8
Badiane        2-3     2-2    6
Rivers         0-9     0-0    0
Wiley          11-18   2-3    27
Mackay         0-0     0-0    0
Boddie         2-4     0-0    4
Moore          2-7     0-0    4
Totals         23-56   7-9    56

Halftime: George Mason 31, East Carolina 30.

3-Point goals: George Mason 6-16 (Larranaga 3-3, Davis 2-6, Heinen 1-4, Tynes 0-1, Wurtz 0-2); East Carolina 3-19 (Wiley 3-5, Mikulas 0-1, Boddie 0-2, Moore 0-2, Bing 0-3, Rivers 0-6).

Rebounds: George Mason 32 (Davis, Lewis 5); East Carolina 29 (Mikulas 12).

Assists: George Mason 9 (Heinen 4); East Carolina 13 (Rivers 4).

Total fouls: George Mason 16; East Carolina 15.

Fouled out: None.

Attendance: 5,523.

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

02/23/2007 01:51:06 AM

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