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ECU Falls Hard to 49ers; Cincy Rematch Looms

From Associated Press Dispatches with Staff Contributions



East Carolina's Gabriel Mikulas swishes a free throw against Charlotte on Saturday. The sophomore forward, who entered yesterday's game hitting 92.1 percent of his free throws (35-38), made 6 of 9 from the line against the 49ers and also had three field goals to lead the Pirates in scoring with 12 points. — Photo: Greg Vacek

CHARLOTTE — In college basketball, when you're prone to miserable shooting performances, it doesn't take long to tumble head-long from the top of the mountain to the bottom of the valley.

East Carolina, which only ten days before had shocked tradition-steeped Louisville, couldn't find the basket for the second game in a row on Saturday and suffered its second straight humbling defeat.

Jobey Thomas scored 22 points as Charlotte went on a 35-9 run to open the second half and turned a close game into an 87-52 pasting of its cross-state league rival.

Gabriel Mikulas led the Pirates (7-12, 1-6) with 12 points and eight rebounds. No other East Carolina player reached double figures as the Pirates shot only 27 percent (18-of-66) from the floor and 9 percent (2-of-24) from 3-point range.

Cam Stephens and Demon Brown scored 11 points apiece as the 49ers (12-6, 6-1 Conference USA) won their fifth straight and kept pressure on No. 4 Cincinnati, atop the conference's American Division standings.

The 49ers scorched the nets for 77 percent (23-of-30) from the floor in the second half as they extended a 29-25 halftime lead to 64-34 with 9:41 remaining.

Thomas, who was held to nine points Wednesday when his own team also knocked of Louisville, scored eight in the final 2:23 of the first half as Charlotte overcame a slow start.

Charlotte then hit 14 of its first 18 shots in the second half to pull away.

The 49ers made just five of their first 20 shots and led 18-17 with 3:56 left. But Charlotte used a 9-4 run to open their largest lead of the half at 27-21 on Stephens' first basket.

ECU's shooting performance was even worse than its 38 percent effort from the field, including a lousy 11 percent from three-point range, against DePaul on Wednesday night, a home game which the Pirates lost 80-58.

In the throes of a three-game losing streak that began at Saint Louis on January 19, ECU will have to find a miracle cure for its shooting woes if it hopes to avoid another near-term shellacking. The Pirates' next stop is Cincinnati, where they will be stalked by the Bearcats on Tuesday night.

Cincinnati, No. 4 in last week's AP poll, extended its nation-leading winning streak to 19 games with a 78-68 road win over South Florida on Saturday. One of the victories in the string was a 72-62 triumph on the Pirates' home court on January 5.

Box Score



Brown 3-7 0-1 6, Bing 2-12 3-4 8, Mikulas 3-7 6-9 12, Hawkins 0-3 0-0 0, Holcomb-Faye 3-10 0-0 6, Duckett 0-0 0-0 0, Primus 1-7 0-0 3, Foxx 2-6 5-7 9, Boddie 2-6 0-0 4, Badiane 1-3 0-0 2, Moore 1-5 0-0 2, Twitty 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 18-66 14-21 52.


Nash 4-9 0-0 10, Stephens 5-12 1-3 11, Williams 3-4 0-0 6, Brown 4-7 0-1 11, Thomas 8-13 2-2 22, Johnson 3-7 2-3 8, Reed 2-3 3-5 7, Niparavicius 2-2 0-0 4, Basden 3-4 1-2 7, Howard 0-0 1-2 1. Totals 34-61 10-18 87.

Halftime: Charlotte 29-25.

3-Point goals: East Carolina 2-24 (Bing 1-5, Primus 1-6, Foxx 0-1, Moore 0-1, Boddie 0-2, Brown 0-3, Hawkins 0-3, Holcomb-Faye 0-3); Charlotte 9-21 (Thomas 4-7, Brown 3-6, Nash 2-6, Johnson 0-2).

Rebounds: East Carolina 43 (Mikulas 8), Charlotte 44 (Williams 11).

Assists: East Carolina 3 (Foxx, Hawkins, Primus), Charlotte 22 (Brown 8).

Total Fouls: East Carolina 19, Charlotte 21.

Fouled Out: None.

Attendance: 9,105.

02/23/2007 10:59:31 AM

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