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Close loss drags out drama for Pirates

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MILWAUKEE — East Carolina came close, but close doesn't count when it comes to Conference USA Tournament mathematics.

Travis Diener scored 30 points and Marquette made seven 3-pointers in the second half en route to a hotly-contested 77-73 victory over ECU Wednesday night, sentencing the Pirates to a few more days of suspense before they will know whether they will spend next week in the postseason or the off-season.

The Golden Eagles (16-10, 7-8 C-USA) didn't wrap it up until the final minute when Diener made four free throws with 25 seconds to play.

Scott Merritt added 14 points and nine rebounds for Marquette, which won its third of four games after losing four straight league games.

East Carolina (12-13, 4-11) was led by Mike Cook with 17 points. Moussa Badiane had 14, Derrick Wiley 13 and Erroyl Bing 10.

The Golden Eagles made six 3-pointers, including four in a row, in the first nine minutes of the second half to lead 55-47.

A 10-2 run, highlighted by two slam dunks and 3-pointers by Wiley and Bing, tied it at 57.

Marquette trailed 63-61 but went ahead on a layup by Merritt and a 3-pointer by Diener. It was 68-66 with when Cook missed a shot with 26 seconds left. Diener was fouled by Bing and Cook was assessed a technical, his fifth foul of the game.

Diener made all four free throws to wrap it up. He also sandwiched four more free throws around a 3-pointer by East Carolina's Belton Rivers in the final 20 seconds.

The Pirates, desperately clinging to hopes of gaining a berth in the conference tournament next week in Cincinnati, lost despite shooting 55 percent (28-for-51). Marquette shot only 41 percent (24-for-59), but made 10 3-pointers to East Carolina's eight.

East Carolina trailed by as many as eight in the first half, but led 32-31 at halftime. The Pirates shot 48 percent (12-of-25) in the first half and Marquette hit only 34 percent (12-of-35).

ECU, locked in a battle in the C-USA standings with Houston and Tulane for the 11th spot in next week's league tournament in Cincinnati, will close out its regular season with a 5 p.m. Saturday road game against Southern Mississippi.

The Cougars (3-12 C-USA) lost to Charlotte 82-61 Wednesday night, while the Green Wave (4-11) fell to USM 70-60, leaving the tussle for the tourney bid unsettled.

Houston, which holds the head-to-head edge over ECU by virtue of a 55-53 January win over the Pirates, will be an underdog when it finishes its regular season Friday at Saint Louis.

Tulane, which lost 76-66 in its lone shot at East Carolina on Feb. 18, has the unenviable task of winding up its schedule at Charlotte on Saturday.

South Florida (1-14) is already destined to stay home at tournament time regardless of the outcome of its Saturday home game against DePaul.


Marquette 77, East Carolina 73

Records: East Carolina 12-13, 4-11; Marquette 16-10, 7-8.

East Carolina 73
Player             FG      FT     PTS

Wiley            4-14     3-6      13
Bing              4-6     1-2      10
Badiane           6-8     2-4      14
Robinson          0-1     0-0       0
Cook              7-9     3-4      17
Rivers            3-7     0-0       9
McNeil            1-3     0-0       3
MacKay            2-2     0-0       5
Rouse             1-1     0-0       2
Totals          28-51    9-16      73

Marquette 77
Player             FG      FT     PTS

Merritt          5-10     4-6      14
Novak             3-8     0-0       9
Sanders           1-7     0-0       2
Mason            3-11     2-2       9
Diener           8-16   10-11      30
Townsend          0-0     0-0       0
Bradley           2-4     0-0       6
Bell              0-0     0-0       0
Chapman           1-2     2-2       4
Grimm             0-0     0-0       0
Jackson           1-1     1-2       3
Totals          24-59   19-23      77

Halftime: East Carolina 32-31.

3-point goals: East Carolina 8-17 (Rivers 3-7, Wiley 2-3, Bing 1-1, MacKay 1-1, McNeil 1-3, Robinson 0-1, Cook 0-1); Marquette 10-18 (Diener 4-8, Novak 3-5, Bradley 2-3, Mason 1-1, Chapman 0-1).

Fouled out: Cook.

Rebounds: East Carolina 27 (Badiane 9); Marquette 30 (Merritt 9).

Assists: East Carolina 12 (Cook 5); Marquette 14 (Diener 7).

Total fouls: East Carolina 25; Marquette 16.

Technical fouls: Cook.

Attendance: 13,278.

02/23/07 11:01 AM

From Associated Press and ECU reports with staff contributions. Copyright 2004. All rights rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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