Pirates ready for rematch with Rice

Published 3:56 am Saturday, February 14, 2009

By By BRIAN HAINES, Sports Writer
GREENVILLE — The streaking Pirates took a tumble on Wednesday as they were set back 73-64 by Tulane in New Orleans.
The fact that East Carolina (12-10, 4-6) only lost by nine is amazing when you take into consideration that neither of the Pirates’ top two leading scorers, Sam Hinnant and James Legan, scored a bucket the entire second half.
The two seniors combined for 11 points, as Legan scored four and Hinnant tallied seven.
Sophomore forward Jamar Abrams, who had been doing a really nice job scoring during ECU’s two-game win streak, accounted for only four points. Abrams, along with fellow forward Darrius Morrow (four points), fouled out of the game.
Point guard Brock Young racked up a game-high 21 points to keep East Carolina within striking distance, and freshman guard Chris Turner added 11.
Tonight the Pirates will look to win back the love of the rim as they host Rice in a Valentines’ Day game scheduled for 7 p.m.
While ECU hopes to rekindle its relationship with the hoop, it’s looking to break the hearts of Rice, who can earn a season sweep of the Pirates with a win tonight.
Last season, East Carolina earned its first-ever Conference USA series sweep of an opponent when it was able to turn two against Rice.
This season, the Owls won the first match-up between the two teams with a 76-70 victory on Jan. 31 in Texas, thanks to a big game by Aleks Perka.
The 6-7 senior forward poured in a career-high 21 points, while grabbing 11 boards to help sink the Pirates.
The Owls have been led all season by senior guard Rodney Foster, whose 11 points and 4.26 assists per game are both team-highs.
With a solid effort from sophomore center Chad Wynn, who also netted a career-high 21 points in the Pirates’ Jan. 21 battle, ECU was able to rally from a 14-point deficit to cut Rice’s lead to 68-64 with a little over two minutes to play, but ran out of gas at the end.
East Carolina is hoping that with a little help from the Minges’ Maniacs, tonight’s game will have a different ending.
First-year coach Ben Braun has done a nice job so far this season with the perennially C-USA cellar-dweller Owls.
At 8-15 (3-6), Rice has already nearly tippled its win total from last season when they finished 3-27.
Braun, who coached at Cal for 12 season, headed into the 2008-09 campaign with 552 career wins, which ranked him 11th among active coaches.
The game will be televised on WITN-Ch. 7.