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Box Score

ECU SID Game Recap

Schedule, Scores, Attendance


ECU springs shocker on Blazers

From electronic and staff reports
All rights reserved.

Burly junior forward Darrius Morrow rumbled underneath and sharpshooting senior guard Jontae Sherrod inflicted damage from the perimeter to power upstart East Carolina to a stunning 75-70 overtime upset of No. 1 seed UAB in the quarterfinal round of the Conference USA Tournament on Thursday in El Paso.

Morrow scored 22 points — 12 on free throws — and muscled down 14 rebounds, while Sherrod matched Morrow's point total on 8-of-12 shooting, including 4-of-7 from 3-point range, as the eighth-seeded Pirates eliminated the Blazers from the tournament only five days after the regular season champs trounced ECU 66-48 in Birmingham.

“Well it’s just an unbelievable win for our team and our program," said first-year ECU coach Jeff Lebo in the postgame press conference. "These kids continue to amaze me with what they’ve done this year … playing against UAB who we just played at their place last week and to come back and do what we did against them."

A part of Lebo's game plan was to avoid playing tentatively.

“I want our team to play loose," he said. "I think in tournament play it’s always important that you are playing with confidence and not playing tight. I thought we had an advantage coming into this game because they had just played an emotional game against us, they had just won Conference USA outright, and had a heck of a celebration. To come back from an emotional game like that to turn around and play the same team again is difficult.

"I felt that we were in a good place but we still had to play the best team in the league, we still had to perform.”

None of Morrow's points was more important than the 6 he scored in overtime.

After freshman guard Preston Purifoy's free throw put the Blazers up by one 42 seconds into overtime, Morrow answered with a close in basket at the other end to start a 7-0 run that pushed the Pirates out front 64-58 with 2:41 left.

ECU (18-14) prospered at the free throw line from that point on, building the lead to as much as 11 with 35 seconds remaining. During the extra period, Morrow added four points from the charity stripe and sophomore guard Corvonn Gaines contributed 7.

Gaines finished with 14 points to join Morrow and Sherrod in double figures.

UAB coach Mike Davis said the Blazers had no answer for Morrow.

"“We had nobody to guard him," he said. "The first game we played at their place, he didn’t have any field goals. The last game we played him, he had 16 points. Tonight, he made plays. They went to him every time in the post and we just had no way to guard him.

"I thought Sherrod did a great job of carrying them in the first half. He had 13 of their 29 points."

East Carolina led at halftime 29-25.

The Pirates had a chance to seal the win in regulation, but the Blazers made three free throws in the final 13 seconds to bring about the game's 11th and final tie.

The outcome took some of the luster off a career performance by UAB's Aaron Johnson. The senior point guard scored 39 points, connecting on 12-of-22 from the floor and 14-of-17 from the free throw line.

Senior guard Jamarr Sanders had 16 points and was the only other UAB player in double figures.

ECU lost a key playmaker, senior guard Brock Young, to an injury in the second half. Young went down near the basket with a buckled knee on a fastbreak. His status was not known at press time.

Davis didn't make excuses after the loss, which leaves the Blazers (22-8) at the mercy of the selection committee for an at-large invitation the the NCAA Tournament.

“They (East Carolina) deserved to win the basketball game," he said. "They played a lot harder than we did. They had 22 and 14 (points) from guys that needed to play. We kind of lost our edge.

"Coach Lebo did a great job with his basketball team. They were very prepared for us. They made plays down the stretch. I thought we should have lost the game in regulation. We made some plays to get into overtime. They were a better basketball team than us.”

Morrow said he carried out Lebo's mandate for the game.

“I just stayed with it," he said. "Coach just kept telling me to post up hard because we’re going to come inside to you."

The Pirates advanced to the quarterfinals by defeating No. 10 seed Central Florida 75-60 in Wednesday's first round.

ECU will face perennial league powerhouse Memphis, the No. 4 seed, in a semifinal matchup tonight at 6:30 p.m. The teams split during the regular season. The Tigers triumphed 61-58 on Jan. 8 in Memphis while the Pirates prevailed 68-57 in Greenville on Mar. 2.

Tournament host and third-seeded Texas-El Paso challenges No. 2 seed Tulsa in the other semifinal at 4 p.m.

Today's semifinal matchups will be televised by CBS College Sports. The championship game, set for a network broadcast by CBS, will be played on Saturday at 11:30 a.m.

The tournament champion receives an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.

Even if it doesn't capture the trophy, East Carolina may have played itself into contention for an invitation to one of the other postseason tournaments. The Pirates have won five of their last six games.

Regardless of outcomes from here on out, ECU will finish the campaign with its first winning season since 1996-97.

Conference USA Tournament Scoreboard & Schedule



Date: Thursday, Mar. 10, 2011.
Event: Conference USA Men's Basketball Championship.
Place: Don Haskins Center, El Paso, TX.
Attendance: 7,085.
Records: ECU 18-14; UAB 22-8.

East Carolina          29  28  18  -  75
Alabama-Birmingham     25  32  13  -  70

 # PLAYER                    FG   3PT    FT  R PTS MIN
01 Darrius Morrow...... f  5-13   0-0 12-16 14  22  43
21 Jamar Abrams........ f   1-6   0-3   5-8  5   7  40-
11 Corvonn Gaines...... g   2-8   2-5  8-12  2  14  39
23 Erin Straughn....... g   1-3   0-2   1-2  7   3  30
24 Jontae Sherrod...... g  8-12   4-7   2-2  3  22  29
10 Brock Young...........   0-5   0-1   3-4  1   3  24
12 Robert Sampson........   1-3   0-2   2-4  3   4  18
33 Chad Wynn.............   0-0   0-0   0-0  2   0   2
TEAM.....................                    8
TOTALS................... 18-50  6-20 33-48 45  75 225
PERCENT..................  36.0  30.0  68.8

 # PLAYER                    FG   3PT    FT  R PTS MIN
03 Anthony Criswell.... f   1-2   0-0   2-2  5   4  28
32 Ovie Soko........... f   0-5   0-0   0-2  4   0  32
01 Aaron Johnson....... g 12-22   1-5 14-17  4  39  44
04 Jamarr Sanders...... g  5-17  4-11   2-2 11  16  40-
23 Dexter Fields....... g   1-6   1-6   0-1  5   3  38
02 Mike Jones............   0-0   0-0   0-0  0   0   0+
05 Robert Williams.......   0-0   0-0   0-0  1   0   1
21 Beas Hamga............   0-1   0-0   0-0  1   0   4
22 Cameron Moore.........   1-4   0-1   0-2  5   2  14
24 Preston Purifoy.......   0-4   0-2   4-7  5   4  11
25 Quincy Taylor.........   1-4   0-3   0-1  2   2  13
TEAM.....................                    6
TOTALS................... 21-65  6-28 22-34 49  70 225
PERCENT..................  32.3  21.4  64.7

Officials: Rick Hartzell, Hal Lusk, Kevin Mathis.
Technical Fouls: Morrow.

PAGE UPDATED 03/13/11 03:19 AM.

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