Pirates look to get back on track against Eagles

Published 1:42 am Wednesday, February 4, 2009

By By BRIAN HAINES, Sports Writer
East Carolina’s hopes of finishing the season above .500 took a big hit on Saturday when it lost 76-70 to Rice.
The loss lowered the Pirates’ record to 10-10 (2-5), and now they must win five of their next nine games to end the regular season with a winning record.
Next up for ECU, which is tied with Marshall and Rice for ninth place in Conference USA, is Southern Miss (13-7, 3-3) which sits in the sixth spot with Houston.
The Golden Eagles are coming off of an 87-75 loss to UTEP. Senior guard Courtney Beasley scored a career-high 30 points in the loss to the Miners and was named the Conference USA Player of the Week for his effort.
Southern Miss is led by its star trio of Beasley, junior Jeremy Wise and sophomore R.L. Horton.
Last season Wise was named second team all-conference, and this year he leads the Eagles with 16.1 points per game, which is ninth in C-USA.
Beasley and his 15.3 points per game ranks two spots behind Wise at 11, while Horton has posted nearly 12 points a night.
Wise is not just a scoring machine, he is also a solid passer and is dishing out 5.15 assists a game.
The Eagles’ trio will present a big challenge for East Carolina when the two tip off tonight at Minges Coliseum at 7 p.m.
If East Carolina wants to walk away with a win it must avoid getting off to a slow start. The Pirates have had a habit of starting off games poorly, and in their latest loss fell behind 34-15 to the Owls in the first half.
The good news for ECU is that Hinnant has been shooting the ball real well lately, and against Rice the senior racked up his second straight 17 point effort.
Hinnant leads the Pirates with 15.3 points per game, which is 10th in the conference.
Another bright spot for East Carolina is that sophomore center Chad Wynn had a breakout game against the Owls and poured in a career-high 21 points.
If Wynn can continue to make his presence felt in the paint the Pirates may have a crack at finishing above .500.