Gabriel Mikulas, left, drives
to the basket against Marquette's Odartey
Blankson in the second half Tuesday night
at Minges Coliseum's Williams Arena. The
Pirates used their boisterous home court
advantage to topple the nationally-ranked
Golden Eagles for the second straight year.
(AP Photo, The Daily
Reflector, Chris Cummins)
GREENVILLE — With its students away on Christmas break and senior point
guard Travis Holcomb-Faye still glued to the bench, few gave East Carolina
much of a chance against nationally-ranked Marquette.
But neither a holiday hiatus nor an academic casualty proved too big of
an obstacle for the Pirates and their loud and proud fans Monday night.
On an evening chock-full of surprises, ECU shattered its home attendance
record with an overflow crowd of 8,081. And fueled by a resurrecting
22-point, 11-rebound performance from forward Gabriel Mikulas, the Pirates
crushed the Golden Eagles' spirit with a stunning 73-70 victory.
It was the second-consecutive season that Marquette (No. 9 Coaches
Poll, No. 13 AP) tugged a lofty ranking into Williams Arena at Minges
Coliseum, which has quickly become a House of Horrors for Golden Eagles
coach Tom Crean.
"It's a very tough environment," Crean said. "I don't think we'll be the
last team in Conference USA to walk out of here without a win.
"The environment is tough, but the team is very tough itself. They are a
very good team; they are very well coached; they know exactly what they want
to do on both ends of the floor and they are going to win a lot of games
That prediction will be a safe one if the Pirates (9-2, 1-0 C-USA)
continue to clean the glass with the same fervor they displayed against
tall, talented Marquette (8-2, 0-1.)
In addition to Mikulas' 11 boards, the Pirates received nine apiece from
forward Erroyl Bing and center Moussa Badiane. Bing was especially tough on
the offensive glass, swiping six as ECU held an impressive 43-31 rebounding
This from a team that was out-rebounded 43-28 by unheralded Coastal
Carolina seven days ago in a disappointing loss.
"I was really worried coming into this basketball game because I just
didn't know where the mindframe of this team was at," Pirates coach Bill
Herrion said. "In both losses, I was just really disappointed in the way we
"The last couple of weeks, I was just concerned about were we losing our
competitive edge and kind of the chip on our shoulder. Obviously these kids
answered that question for me tonight."
Mikulas certainly did, playing what Herrion described as "the best game
of his career." The six-foot-eight forward overpowered and out-finessed his
foes, nailing six-of-nine field goals and all ten of his free throw
The Pirates also got a hefty 16-point contribution from Bing, who hit six
of his 11 attempts from the floor.
"It was good to see Erroyl Bing back," Herrion said. "Erroyl Bing has
been really struggling offensively. He's been struggling with his
confidence. I thought he came up with a lot of big plays for us down the
By the time the game entered crunch time, East Carolina had built itself
a nine-point cushion following Badiane's thunderous slam with 2:25 to play.
The Golden Eagles didn't go away without a fight, scoring
nine-consecutive points to knot the game at 70 with 42 seconds to play.
That's when Pirates leading scorer Derrick Wiley took over, driving to
the hole and drawing a foul, then draining the game-winning free throws.
"I wanted to shoot those free throws because I was mad," Wiley said.
"Right before that, Gabe (Mikulas) hit me on a pass back toward the middle
and I missed that lay up. I knew I had to do something to make up for that."
Wiley made perhaps his biggest impact defending National Player of the
Year candidate Dwyane Wade, who finished the evening with a below-average
21-point effort. Wade connected on just 7-of-17 field goal attempts, while
committing six costly turnovers.
About the easiest shot the Eagles' star had all night was a last-gasp
three from the corner with one second remaining that could have tied the
"It was a good experience for me," Wiley said. "He's a big-time player.
Soon, he'll be going to the NBA. I can build off that and it will just help
me out for the future."
Momentum shifted several times during the first half.
The Golden Eagles used a 9-2 run with Badiane on the bench in foul
trouble to take an early 18-8 lead when Todd Townsend drained a three
pointer from the left wing.
The Pirates bounced back with a run of their own, outscoring Marquette
19-6 to jump ahead 33-30 before the Eagles scored the final five points of
the half to take a 35-33 lead into the locker room.
"When you play a ranked team, you sometimes give more than what you
have," Mikulas said. "That's what we did tonight. We need to keep doing that
when we don't play ranked teams. Every night, every game, we need to do the
The Pirates will have an opportunity to do just that when they entertain
Division II member UNC-Pembroke Thursday night.