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Missing Ingredient Leaves ECU at a Loss — Again Staff

Box Score

GREENVILLE — That final ingredient is still missing. And its absence was reflected in another painful loss Saturday night for a doggedly persistent East Carolina basketball team.

The Pirates (2-6), still without the services of their strategic weapon, Gabriel Mikulas, played another tenacious defensive game but sputtered offensively down the stretch, enabling visiting Old Dominion (5-2) to eke out a 53-52 win.

The Monarchs, long-time league rivals of ECU in the Colonial Athletic Association, improved their lopsided advantage in the series to 32-13 — a sign that, for the time being, the Pirates' move to Conference USA has not changed the balance of power between the programs.

Mikulas, a sophomore frontcourt player from Argentina who was ECU's leading scorer a year ago, has been on the sidelines all season awaiting an NCAA ruling concerning foreign players who participated on club teams in their home countries.

Moussa Badiane, a 6-10 French freshman who sat out the Pirates' first six games for similar reasons before being reinstated last week, was a dominating defensive presence around the basket, blocking a school record-tying 8 shots to prevent the physical Monarchs from seizing control inside.

Badiane's effort was the highlight of an ECU defensive effort which was energetic enough to give the Pirates a chance to win, despite their generally punchless offensive attack.

"We have become a much better team defensively the past two weeks," said Pirate head coach Bill Herrion. "We have good, young players and we just have to keep playing hard. We will get a win here along the way."

According to knowledgeable sources, Mikulas's clearance to play is thought to be imminent. In the meantime, the losses keep piling up for the Pirates, who are in the throes of a six-game skid since opening the season with victories over Rutgers and Northwestern.

Saturday night's outlook for ECU was looking sunny when it gained a 46-39 lead on sophomore Jonathan Moore's basket with 8:49 left.

Then the Pirate offense went into fizzle mode, going without a field goal for the next 8 minutes.

ODU steadily whittled away at the margin, finally capturing the advantage, 51-50, on a jumper by Clay McGowen with 1:51 remaining. With 32 seconds left, John Waller's lay-up boosted the Monarchs lead to 53-50.

Point guard Travis Holcomb-Faye finally scored ECU's first field goal in more than 8 minute, hitting a short jumper in traffic to cut the deficit to one.

ODU left the door cracked open for the Pirates by missing a pair of opportunities to seal the outcome at the free throw line, but Holcomb-Faye's driving runner in the lane as time expired skittered off the rim.

Clay McGowen led Old Dominion with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Rasheed Wright added 11 points and Waller finished with 10.

Moore and Erroyl Bing, who has scored in double-figures in all eight of ECU's games, had 10 points apiece to pace the Pirates.

The contest was the first of a six-game ECU home stand which will culminate with the Pirates' C-USA opener against Cincinnati on January 5.

With East Carolina University in final exams, the Pirates' next game will not be until Saturday, December 15, when USC-Spartanburg visits for a 7 p.m. match-up.

Box Score


Old Dominion: Marsh 1-7 0-2 2, Wright 3-11 2-2 11, Dunnington 1-1 0-0 2, Greene 2-12 2-2 6, Thomas 2-6 0-0 5, Waller 3-5 2-2 10, Nance 0-2 2-2 2, McGowen 5-9 5-7 15, Principe 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 17-53 13-17 53.

East Carolina: Moore 4-14 2-2 10, Bing 4-8 0-0 10, Howard 1-3 3-4 5, Brown 3-9 0-0 8, Holcomb-Faye 1-7 0-1 2, Primus 1-4 0-0 3, Hawkins 1-4 0-0 2, Boddie 3-5 0-0 8, Badiane 1-3 2-2 4. Totals 19-57 7-9 52.

Halftime: Old Dominion 24-23.

3-Point goals: Old Dominion 6-18 (Wright 3-7, Waller 2-3, Thomas 1-4, Nance 0-2, Greene 0-1, Marsh 0-1); East Carolina 7-24 (Boddie 2-2, Bing 2-3, Brown 2-6, Primus 1-4, Moore 0-5, Hawkins 0-3, Holcomb-Faye 0-1).

Rebounds: Old Dominion 41 (McGowen 10); East Carolina 37 (Bing 8).

Assists: Old Dominion 10 (Marsh, Wright 3); East Carolina 8 (Badiane, Holcomb-Faye 2).

Total fouls: Old Dominion 13, East Carolina 16.

Fouled out: None.


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

02/23/2007 10:59:42 AM

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