No. 20 SMU survives Pirates
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HARTFORD, CT — Top-seeded Southern
Methodist withstood a challenge from eighth-seeded East Carolina for a
74-68 quarterfinal win in the American Athletic Conference tournament
Friday afternoon at the XL Center.
The Pirates (14-18) attacked from
beyond the arc, hitting 15 of 35 attempts from long range. Threes by
Terry Whisnant, Marshall Guilmette, B.J. Tyson and Antonio Robinson
helped ECU to an early 19-9 advantage.
Robinson had a career-high 18 points
and a team-high six rebounds. Whisnant matched both of those numbers
after going scoreless in an 81-80 overtime win over Central Florida in
the first round of the AAC event on Thursday.
"I didn't shoot very well yesterday,"
Whisnant said. "Coach (Jeff Lebo) just talked to me. All my teammates
talked to me because they want me to shoot the ball. So I came out
today, wanted to be aggressive and wanted to get this win."
Caleb White had 14 points for the
Pirates, who saw their early advantage wiped out by an 18-3 Mustangs
SMU, ranked No. 20 by the Associated
Press, led 37-32 at the half but could not pull away as in
a 77-54 win over ECU in Dallas on Jan. 17.
"We battled our tail off," Lebo said.
"We shot the ball like we needed to shoot it to have a chance. Our
defense was really good when we didn't turn the ball over."
The Pirates had 15 turnovers while
SMU committed nine.
"We made some adjustments in the
zone," Lebo said. "They didn't score much in the half court. On the
first shot, defense was excellent. But we had some turnovers that they
got out on the break and obviously their size inside was a big
difference. But really proud of my group and, in particular, my
Robinson, who had six assists, and
Paris Roberts-Campbell played their final game game for ECU.
Roberts-Campbell made one of two field goal attempts, hitting a three
that cut SMU's lead to 59-57 with 7:58 remaining.
Two free throws by Robinson put the
Pirates ahead 62-61 with 6:10 to go. A pair of foul shots by White
evened the score at 64 with 4:37 left before a 6-0 run by SMU over the
next three-plus minutes proved too much for ECU to overcome.
SMU (25-6) got 20 points and five
assists from 5-feet, 9-inch Nic Moore, the AAC Player of the Year.
Markus Kennedy added 15 points and six rebounds for the Mustangs.
SMU made 19 of 28 free throws while
ECU sank seven of eight foul shots. The Pirates were whistled for 20
fouls compared to nine for the Mustangs.
Guilmette fouled out with 3:11 to go
after scoring eight points and grabbing five rebounds in 30 minutes.
Tyson, a freshman, added seven points to finish the season with a
team-high 12.7 scoring average.
03/14/15 01:13 AM.
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