Blazers burn Pirates from downtown

Published 5:33 am Sunday, January 28, 2007

By By BRIAN HAINES, Sports Writer
GREENVILLE — The Pirates sailed to their sixth straight loss Saturday night as the UAB Blazers ran away with an 58-42 victory.
Though East Carolina (5-14, 0-6 Conference USA) has won only once in its last 14 games, Pirates head coach Ricky Stokes said his team has and will continue to bring an upbeat attitude to the court.
East Carolina showed flashes of potential early on against the Blazers (11-9, 3-3), and got within four points of UAB when Courtney Captain drove to the hoop for a layup to cut the Blazers’ lead to 13-9.
After allowing UAB’s swingman Wen Mukubu to drain a 3-pointer, the Pirates answered back with one of their own as Darrell Jenkins nailed a well-defended trey at the top of the arc to pull ECU back within 16-12 at the 12:35 mark.
From there the Pirates’ offense went to pieces as they failed to score for the next 10 minutes, allowing the Blazers to finish out the half on a 14-4 run.
The combination of Mukubu and forward Lawrence Kinnard was too much for East Carolina as the duo tallied 19 first-half points, mostly from long distance.
Mukuba and Kinnard devastated the Pirates’ zone defense, shooting a combined 4-8 from downtown. Mukubu would finish with a game-high 15 points, while Kinnard was right behind him with 14.
While the Blazers found their stroke, East Carolina needed Mapquest to find theirs as the Pirates shot a poultry 2-12 from behind the arc in the first half.
Captain was in the “who can’t” category in the first half, shooting 1-7 in the first half from 3-point range.
Stokes contemplated pulling Captain during his cold streak, but said the guard’s defensive ability and ball handling skills were too vital to be sitting on the bench.
After going into halftime down 30-16, Captain shrugged off his first-half woes and came out firing in the second.
Captain netted five quick points, as he and Gabe Blair sparked a 15-7 Pirates run to get East Carolina back within five points of the Blazers with the score 37-32 with 12 minutes left in the game.
After seeing their zone get decimated by the Blazers’ shooters, Stokes switched up his defense to a man-to-man, which helped generate more turnovers to help the offense get on a roll
The Blazers were able to withstand East Carolina’s early onslaught and counter with one of their own.
Though quiet for most of the game, UAB’s leading scorer, Paul Delaney, came alive in the last 10 minutes scoring five of his nine points.
Delaney stuck the dagger in the Pirates when his 3-pointer with 9 minutes left in the game expanded the Blazers’ lead to 44-33, essentially killing East Carolina’s rally.
The Pirates will look to snap its six-game skid on Jan. 31 at Marshall.