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Appalachian State Outmuscles Mikul-less Pirates

East Carolina, facing depth and size disadvantages in the front court, bolted ahead early but was unable to sustain the momentum, falling at Appalachian State on Monday night, 93-87.

ECU (2-2) went on a 10-0 run to build a 19-10 lead with 10:47 to go in the first half before the Mountaineers (1-1), paced by center Josh Shehan, began to assert themselves down low, gradually cobbling together a 42-40 halftime lead.

As ASU attacked around the basket, the Pirates, playing their fourth straight game on the road, were clearly handicapped by the continued absence of sophomore forward Gabriel Mikulas and freshman center Moussa Badiane.

ECU head coach Bill Herrion complimented the Mountaineers while acknowledging the Pirates were undone by their inability to counter ASU's strategy around the lane.

“We got beat by a good team tonight,” he said. “We lacked the inside game to ease their pressure on our guards."

Herrion's comments were an indirect reference to the continued NCAA-imposed suspensions of frontcourt stalwarts Mikulas and Badiane. The pair are ensnared in a Catch-22 involving dozens of foreign college players around the country who are awaiting a ruling regarding their participation, along with paid players, on club teams in their home countries.

Shehan, a bulky, 6-8 junior, finished with 20 points and 7 rebounds and was the Mountaineers' main weapon as they maintained a close lead most of the second half before spurting ahead in the final minutes to keep the game out of reach.

"Our guys gave a great effort tonight,” said Herrion, whose team opened its season with three games in three days in the Black Coaches Association Invitational in Raleigh before heading west for the battle in Boone.

The greatest effort, as far as the numbers are concerned, came from Pirate forward Erroyl Bing, who was the game's statistical leader with 26 points and 11 rebounds.

For Bing, who was named to the BCA's All-Tournament Team after ECU defeated Rutgers and Northwestern before falling to N.C. State in the title game, it was his fourth consecutive double-figure scoring performance.

Jonathan Moore contributed 14 points and 7 rebounds for the Pirates and Kenyatta Brown scored 13.

ECU, in its first season as a basketball member of Conference USA, will return to Greenville for the first time in almost a week to begin preparations for its first home game, a Saturday night contest against Central Florida at 7 p.m.

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Appalachian State University's SID Office contributed to this story.

02/23/2007 01:35:10 PM

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