Pirates win overtime thriller

Published 12:20 pm Wednesday, November 26, 2008

By By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
GREENVILLE — Led by a balanced scoring attack, and withstanding a scoring barrage by Eric Maynor, the East Carolina Pirates pulled out a 93-90 overtime win over the Virginia Commonwealth Rams.
It was a nice way to cap off a five-game home stand for the Pirates (4-1), and a splendid way for Mack McCarthy to beat the team he had coached from 1999-2002.
James Legan paced the Pirates with 20 points, including 15 in the second half and overtime. Sam Hinnant added 18 points and Brock Young 17 points to go with 11 assists.
DaQuan Joyner and Darrius Morrow played well inside. Joyner, who wasn’t even supposed to play, finished with 12 points and eight rebounds in 33 minutes of action. Morrow finished with a double-double, netting 16 points (7 of 8 from the field) and 12 rebounds.
McCarthy praised the big men’s second-half play.
The Rams, who started the season 2-0, dropped their second straight.
Maynor, a senior guard, did everything he could to lift VCU. He scored a career-high 35 points, including 27 in the second half and overtime.
The Pirates, who hit 50.7 percent (34 of 67) from the floor, including 63.3 percent (19 of 30) in the second half, erased a 12-point first-half deficit to get back into the game.
VCU had a rally of its own, battling back from nine down in the second half to force overtime.
A rare four-point play by Hinnant gave the Pirates an 88-84 lead with 3:21 to play in overtime.
The Rams used a 6-2 spurt, including a game-tying 3-pointer by Maynor, to knot the game at 90-90 with 1:37 remaining.
VCU looked to take the lead, but Brock Young stole the ball with 45 seconds to play. Young missed a leaner in the paint, but Morrow corralled the rebound and was fouled in the process.
Morrow split a pair of free throws with 21 seconds left for a 91-90 lead.
Hinnant was able to draw a charge on Maynor, his fifth foul of the game, on the ensuing play.
Young stepped to the charity stripe with 10 seconds remaining and calmly swished both shots, giving ECU a 93-90 lead.
Bradford Burgess missed an off-balanced heave at the buzzer as the Pirates celebrated their fourth win.
The Pirates erased an early double-digit deficit, scoring 13 consecutive points between halves, including six straight to start the second, to grab a lead. Hinnant buried a triple to cap the run and give ECU a 39-37 advantage, its first lead since 8-7 early in the first half.
The teams were tied three times, the last at 47-47 with 14 minutes remaining, before the Pirates exploded.
Legan knocked down a trey from deep, ending a 9-0 blitz that gave the Pirates a 54-47 advantage with 12 minutes to play. Morrow muscled his way inside for an easy deuce, giving ECU its largest lead of the game (nine points) at 58-49.
Maynor did his best to lead the Rams back. He scored 10 of his team’s 14 points at one stretch, including a jumper that pulled VCU within 67-63.
However, Legan seemed to have an answer at every turn, nailing a 3-pointer, jumper and layup off a sweet dish from Young to keep the Pirates ahead. Legan’s third 3-pointer in the second half gave the Pirates a 72-63 advantage with five minutes remaining.
The Rams didn’t quit. Maynor hit a couple big triples in the waning stages, and two big free throws, to pull the Rams within two.
ECU’s inability to convert late free throws, including two misses by Young with 48 seconds left, opened the door for the Rams. A dunk by Larry Sanders (16 points, 14 rebounds, four blocks) with 33 seconds left tied it at 82-82.
Playing for one shot, Hinnant’s off-balanced jumper missed the mark, sending the game into overtime.
The Pirates return to action Saturday at Winthrop for their first away contest of the season. After a Dec. 3 game at UNC-Wilmington, ECU returns home Dec. 6 to face Limestone.