Pirates stun the Wolfpack
RONNIE WOODWARD, Sports Correspondent
GREENVILLE — The streak is finally over.
East Carolina's 75-69 upset victory over N.C. State, which was making its first trip to Minges Coliseum, was the Pirates first victory over an Atlantic Coast Conference team in the program's history.
"I can see how big of a rivalry this is now and I've never been a part of something like that before," said ECU senior Darrell Jenkins. "That feeling is overwhelming; the crowd rushing the floor and giving us hugs…I'll remember that for the rest of my life."
ECU's first win against the ACC in 58 attempts sent Minges Coliseum into a frenzy, as ECU students stormed onto the floor in jubilation and the Wolfpack and their faithful that made the 67-mile trip stood in disbelief.
"This is a big confidence boost and I'm very proud to wear this jersey," Jenkins said. "We're going to wear the gear every day to class, to Harris Teeter or wherever we go."
Sam Hinnant's 3-pointer with 2:13 left put the Pirates up 67-64. Cory Farmer stole the ensuing inbound pass and then made a layup that extended ECU's lead to five.
ECU never relinquished the lead after that pivotal point.
"Hopefully, this win will jump-start the program," said John Fields. "That's our first win against an ACC team and, hopefully, that will get everybody to believe in us and feel good about Pirate basketball again."
ECU's monumental win came just three days after losing to ACC foe Clemson, 82-67.
ECU coach Mack McCarthy believes that the adjustments the Pirates made after the Clemson game had a huge impact on the win over the Wolfpack.
"The first thing I told the kids after the Clemson game was, 'I couldn't wait for Saturday,'" McCarthy said. "That's because there were enough things that were correctable and I thought we could compete tonight."
Hinnant racked up a career-high 30 points because of his hot hand from the perimeter. The 6-foot-4 junior hit six of his eight attempts from the 3-point line.
"With us being in Conference USA, you know we're going to get amped up for the ACC teams because we see them play on TV almost every night," Hinnant said. "We just came together, played hard and came out victorious."
Hinnant connected on each of his first five 3-pointers and had 19 points in the first half.
"After I hit the first one I knew I was going to have a good night," he said. "I was struggling shooting the ball at the beginning of the season, but I know my teammates and coaches have faith in me and they just told me to keep shooting the ball and that's what I did."
As a team, ECU shot 10-18 from behind the arc, which resulted in a season-high 55.6 percent, while the Wolfpack only connected on five of its 16 3-point attempts.
ECU took its first lead of the game, 54-53, on a four-point play from James Legan with 11:30 left in the game.
The Pirates outscored N.C. State 13-7 in the final five minutes of the game.
"Down the stretch, when the game is won or lost in those last four of five minutes, we didn't execute and they did," said Wolfpack coach Sidney Lowe.
The 7,623 fans inside of Minges Coliseum, which was the most since ECU played Louisville Jan. 16, 2003, gave ECU's players plenty of energy and had an affect on the game, according to both McCarthy and Lowe.
"I've coached a long time and in a lot of great places, but I don't think I've ever been in a building as loud as this was," said McCarthy. "There were times where it was deafening in there and there's no question that the crowd had a factor in the outcome."
The Pirates will not play again until they host UNC-Wilmington on Dec. 22, which gives them plenty of time to soak up one of the biggest wins in ECU basketball history.
"We have two weeks of practice and another big game against UNCW so we have to build on this," said Jenkins.
EAST CAROLINA 75, N.C. STATE 69
N.C. STATE (4-3)
Grant 7-11 10-13 25, Costner 2-11 3-5 7, Hickson 4-6 7-9 15, Fells 3-8 0-0 8, Degand 1-7 2-2 5, Harris 0-0 0-0 0, Gonzalez 1-2 0-0 3, Horner 1-2 0-0 2, McCauley 2-3 0-0 4. Totals 21-50 22-29 69.
EAST CAROLINA (4-5)
Gagnon 0-2 0-0 0, Blair 1-7 2-2 4, Farmer 2-5 2-3 6, Hinnant 10-13 4-6 30, Jenkins 3-8 4-5 11, Legan 3-7 1-1 9, Young 0-3 0-0 0, Abrams 0-0 0-0 0, Fields 3-6 1-6 7, Wynn 2-3 0-0 4, Evans 1-1 1-2 4. Totals 25-55 15-25 75.
Halftime—Tied 38. 3-Point Goals—N.C. State 5-16 (Fells 2-5, Gonzalez 1-2, Grant 1-2, Degand 1-3, Costner 0-4), East Carolina 10-18 (Hinnant 6-8, Legan 2-4, Evans 1-1, Jenkins 1-3, Farmer 0-1, Young 0-1). Fouled Out—Blair. Rebounds—N.C. State 33 (Costner 10), East Carolina 34 (Fields 11). Assists—N.C. State 12 (Degand 4), East Carolina 16 (Jenkins 8). Total Fouls—N.C. State 18, East Carolina 22. A—7,623. A—7,623.