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Cincy Survives Scare from Aggressive Pirates

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By Denny O'Brien

East Carolina's Kenyatta Brown (3) jostles for position near the lane during Saturday night's Conference USA opener in Williams Arena. The senior swingman scored 14 points while sophomore forward Erroyl Bing tallied 17 as the Pirates tested No. 13 Cincinnati from start to finish before finally falling, 72-62.
Photo ©2002: By Denny O'Brien,


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MPEG Movie Clip 1: View the the historic jump ball which officially initiated Saturday night's East Carolina-Cincinnati game. It marked the Pirates' debut as a basketball member of Conference USA and, fittingly enough, ECU freshman Moussa Badiane controlled the tip. [ ©2002, By Denny O'Brien ] Play Clip 1...
MPEG Movie Clip 2: The action around the lane became physical at times during Saturday night's ECU-Cincinnati game. View the Bearcats on the attack before a frenzied scramble under the basket. [ ©2002, By Denny O'Brien ] Play Clip 2...
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GREENVILLE — Most expected 13th-ranked Cincinnati to blow out Conference USA newcomer East Carolina and casually move on towards tougher challenges on its league schedule.

But instead of blistering through snow-covered Greenville, the Bearcats came out colder than Old Man Winter, trailing by 11 midway through the first half and searching for solutions to a tenacious Pirates defense.

The answers would come from the inside-outside duo of junior center Donald Little and senior guard Steve Logan, who combined for 41 points on the night. Together, they helped put an end to any thoughts the Pirates had about a Minges miracle, rallying the Bearcats to a 72-62 victory on Saturday.

It was a historic night for East Carolina (6-7, 0-1 C-USA), which made its conference debut in front of a jacked-up, near-capacity crowd of 7,143. For six-time league champion Cincinnati (13-1, 1-0), it was just another day at the office, according to head coach Bob Huggins.

"The crowd is pretty indicative of every time we play," Huggins said. "We play in hostile environments everywhere — our guys are used to that."

The Pirates certainly came out with a big-game attitude, sprinting to an 18-7 lead with 10:39 to play in the first half. Then, the tough and talented Bearcats began to flex their muscle, taking the lead for good on Jason Maxiell's 14-footer with 3:13 to go before the break.

The Pirates made a game of it to the very end, but couldn't make enough defensive stops down the stretch to de-claw the 'Cats.

Though hanging tooth-and-nail with powerful UC was an encouraging sign for the Pirates, ECU head coach Bill Herrion noted there is no substitute for victory with his program.

"There (are) no moral victories," Herrion said. "I thought it was a game we could have won. We put ourselves in position. I thought we played hard enough. I thought we guarded well enough. You've got to give them (Cincinnati) credit."

Cincinnati opened the second half much better than the first, building its lead to ten when Little connected on a lay-up with 11:14 remaining. Little, who finished the evening with 17 points and a game-high 15 rebounds, controlled the paint for much of the second half against the smaller Pirates.

Logan was the game's high-scorer, with 24 points, including 13 of 14 from the free throw line. Little was equally effective from the charity stripe, nailing nine of his 11 attempts.

It was the Bearcats' toughness around the basket that proved to be the difference in the game.

"They (Cincinnati) started pounding it inside early in the second half," Herrion said. "They got to the line too much. You've got to keep a team like that off the line."

The Pirates were led once again by sophomore forward Erroyl Bing, who tossed in 17 points and pulled down six boards, four of which came on the offensive end. Senior forward/guard Kenyatta Brown added 14 points, including two big three-pointers that kept the Pirates within striking distance in the second half.

"I just had to step up and make shots," Brown said. "The couple of threes that I did take in the first half didn't fall. I've just got to make those open shots."

Brown also added a game-high four steals.

Perhaps the most telling statistic in the game was the Pirates dismal 13.6 percent shooting from behind the three-point arc. Coming into the game, the Pirates led C-USA in three pointers made per game, but were able to knock down just three of 22 attempts against the Bearcats.

"I don't think we took a lot of bad threes," Herrion said. "I thought we had a lot of open looks on some scramble plays, and we didn't knock them down."

Despite the loss and the frigid three-point shooting, Herrion wasn't displeased with the effort of his team, which played with the grit of a C-USA contender. The Pirates' third-year head coach said the challenge now is to repeat that type of performance throughout the conference schedule. Otherwise, victories will be tough to come by.

"That's the way our team is supposed to play effort-wise every time we step on the court," Herrion said. "If we want to be a legitimate Division-I basketball program, and compete in this league — great teams play and compete every night they step on the floor."

East Carolina will definitely need another valiant effort on Wednesday, when it travels to Alabama-Birmingham to face the Blazers in its first-ever league road game. The Pirates will have a welcome addition on the trip, as last year's leading scorer Gabriel Mikulas will return to the team after serving a 13-game suspension.

Box Score



Davis 3-6 1-1 7, McElroy 3-8 0-0 6, Little 4-10 9-11 17, Stokes 1-4 1-2 3, Logan 5-13 13-14 24, Williams 1-2 0-0 3, Barker 0-2 0-0 0, Maxiell 5-5 2-2 12. Totals 22-50 26-30 72.


Brown 4-10 4-4 14, Bing 6-14 5-10 17, Badiane 2-6 3-5 7, Hawkins 0-6 0-0 0, Holcomb-Faye 3-7 0-0 7, Duckett 1-1 0-2 2, Primus 4-9 0-1 8, Moore 3-8, 1-2 7. Totals 23-61 13-24 62.

Halftime: Cincinnati 34; East Carolina 29.

3-Point Goals: Cincinnati 2-11 (Williams 1-2, Logan 1-5, Barker 0-1, McElroy 0-1, Stokes 0-2); East Carolina 3-22 (Brown 2-7, Holcomb-Faye 1-2, Bing 0-2, Moore 0-2, Hawkins 0-4, Primus 0-5).

Rebounds: Cincinnati 44 (Little 15); East Carolina 30 (Bing 6).

Assists: Cincinnati 9 (Stokes 3); East Carolina 9 (Bing 3).

Total Fouls: Cincinnati 20, East Carolina 25.

Fouled out: Davis.

Attendance: 7,143.

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Copyright 2001  All rights reserved.  This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

02/23/2007 02:05:58 AM

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