Pirates run past the Camels

Published 11:08 am Thursday, November 20, 2008

By By BRIAN HAINES, Sports Writer
GREENVILLE — It was the kind of stretch that left Pirates’ fans feeling that maybe, just maybe this could be the year their beloved Purple and Gold can string together a winning season.
For eight minutes in the end of the first half East Carolina turned defensive stops into fastbreak points, rebounded, hit their three-pointers and got points in the paint as it reeled off a critical 21-6 run that would lead to an 86-65 victory over Campbell Wednesday night.
The win pushed the Pirates record up to 3-0, making it the first time they have started a season with three straight wins since the 2003-04 campaign.
East Carolina coach Mack McCarthy, who wasn’t pleased with the team’s defensive effort for a majority of the game, said that his team’s defense during that eight minute run that allowed the Pirates to run away from the Camels.
For the second straight night James Legan led the team in scoring as he poured in a game-high 24 points on the strength of 50 percent (6-12) shooting from beyond the arc.
Two of those threes came at crucial times during the Pirates’ first half blitz.
East Carolina and Campbell battled back and forth throughout the first 10 minutes of the half, with the Pirates, thanks to some aggressive play by point guard Brock Young (18 points, six assists), holding slight advantage for most of that period. However, the Camels climbed back into the game on the strength of their two-time All-Atlantic Sun Conference forward John Rodriguez’s nine first half points.
Campbell was able to take a 20-19 lead after a Amir Celestin free throw with a little under eight minutes to play in the half, and that’s when everything began to click for ECU.
The Pirates’ clamped down on Rodriguez defensively, and attacked him when they had the ball forcing him into early foul trouble.
East Carolina limited Rodriguez to a team-high 14 points, and got him to foul out in the second half.
ECU was able to fastbreak off of those defensive stops and get the ball into the hands of Legan and center Chad Wynn (11 points, six rebounds).
Together, they tallied half of the 26 points scored during the run that sent the Pirates into the locker room with a 40-26 lead and eventually their third straight win.
Wynn suffered a bloody lip when he attempted to block a shot midway through the second half, which forced him to the bench, but he was able to return later in the game.
Outside of the eight minute run, the Pirates struggled a bit to shoot the ball early (42 percent for the game), but once again had tremendous balance on offense.
ECU had four players score over 10 points in Legan, Wynn, Young and Sam Hinnant. Hinnant finished the game with 16 points despite going 0-5 from downtown, but made up for it at the foul line where he was 12-15.
The senior also played point guard for a stretch and led the team with a game-high seven assists.
Hinnant said that the team’s balance take a little bit of pressure of him from having to be the main scoring threat.
The Pirates will look to run their winning streak to four on Saturday when they host George Mason at 4:30 p.m.
Buried Treasure:
East Carolina met up with Campbell for the first time in five years, and after Wednesday night’s win now hold a 39-18 series lead. … The Pirates’ victory marked only the fourth time they have started a season 3-0 since the 1969-70 season. … Senior forward Sam Hinnant entered the Pirates-Camels game having made 139 career 3-pointers which ranks him seventh in school history, and tied with Tony Parham (1995-8=98). … Freshman power forward Darrius Morrow’s 15-point, 10-rebound effort against St. Andrews on Sunday made him the only Pirate on the roster to have a recorded a double-double in his career. Morrow tallied eight points and six rebounds against Campbell.