Pirates no match for No. 18 Tigers

Published 12:34 am Thursday, January 29, 2009

By By BRIAN HAINES, Sports Writer
GREENVILLE — The Conference USA leaders in free throw percentage picked a bad night to have a bad night from the stripe, as the Pirates shot 9-22 from the foul line in their 85-64 loss to No. 18 Memphis on Wednesday.
The poor free throw shooting wasn’t the main reason why East Carolina (10-9, 2-4) lost. A staunch defensive effort by a talented Tigers (17-3, 6-0) team was, but the poor shooting certainly kept a fairly competitive game from being a really close one.
McCarthy was joking about the e-mails, but what was serious was a Memphis pressure defense that forced 12 turnovers, 10 in the first half, and allowed the Tigers to hold a 12-point advantage for most of the game.
While the Pirates fought hard for every point they got, Memphis senior Antonio Anderson made it look easy as he scored a game-high 26 points on 9-13 shooting from the field and a 6-8 effort from the line. Anderson also dished out eight assists and had five rebounds and two steals.
Super freshman Tyreke Evans struggled at times, but ended up with 18 points and three steals.
Memphis got off to a fast start and jumped out to a 22-10 lead after a Willie Kemp three-pointer.
ECU cut the Tigers’ lead to 40-31 with two minutes left in the first half after a Brock Young (six points, eight assists) bucket.
However, the Tigers scored the next five points to take a 45-41 lead into the locker room.
In the second half, it was the Pirates that came out on fire thanks to a tremendous effort by senior Sam Hinnant and sophomore Jamar Abrams.
Hinnant scored 12 of his 17 points in the second half, all on threes, while Abrams led the Pirates with 18 points.
The Pirates ripped off an 8-2 run at the beginning of the second half and, after a Hinnant three, cut the deficit to 47-39.
East Carolina would twice cut the Tigers’ advantage to eight, but could not get any closer.
Memphis continued to flex its defensive muscles and push the Pirates back.
The Tigers out-boarded the Pirates 37-29, and only turned the ball over six times, as opposed to ECU’s 12.
Abrams and Darrius Morrow led ECU on the glass with eight and seven boards respectively, while center Chad Wynn was again a non-factor in the paint with one rebound and five points.
A team that lives and dies by the three-pointer always has a puncher’s chance for an upset, and Tigers’ coach John Calapari admitted he was a little nervous during his team’s battle with the Pirates.
Calapari, whose team won its 48th consecutive conference game, said the Tigers’ 85-point performance was its best offensive display all season, and that the high-scoring was not an indictment on the Pirates’ defense.
The Pirates will look to rebound Jan. 31 when they travel to Rice.
MEMPHIS (17-3)
Taggart 2-5 0-0 4, Dozier 5-9 1-3 11, Anderson 9-13 6-8 26, Evans 8-18 1-1 18, Mack 2-4 0-0 5, Kemp 3-4 0-0 9, Sallie 1-3 0-0 3, Henderson-Niles 4-6 1-3 9, Simpkins 0-0 0-0 0, Laird 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 34-62 9-15 85.
Abrams 6-10 2-4 18, Wynn 0-1 5-10 5, Legan 3-7 0-0 8, Hinnant 5-11 2-2 17, Young 3-9 0-1 6, Morrow 4-8 0-5 8, Turner 0-2 0-0 0, Sherrod 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 22-50 9-22 64.
Halftime—Memphis 45-31. 3-Point Goals—Memphis 8-17 (Kemp 3-4, Anderson 2-4, Sallie 1-2, Mack 1-2, Evans 1-4, Dozier 0-1), East Carolina 11-25 (Hinnant 5-10, Abrams 4-6, Legan 2-5, Sherrod 0-1, Turner 0-1, Young 0-2). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Memphis 37 (Henderson-Niles 10), East Carolina 29 (Abrams 8). Assists—Memphis 24 (Anderson 8), East Carolina 13 (Young 8). Total Fouls—Memphis 17, East Carolina 13. A—5,705.