Pirates show heart on Valentines Day

Published 4:05 am Sunday, February 15, 2009

By By BRIAN HAINES, Sports Writer
GREENVILLE — With the score deadlocked at 88 and only six seconds left in overtime, Pirates senior James Legan ran in a semi-circle pattern from left to right behind the three-point arc, received the ball from Brock Young near the center of the court and proceeded to stick the knife in the hearts’ of the Rice Owls with a three-point dagger that cemented a 91-88 victory.
Consider it East Carolina’s version of the Valentines’ Day Massacre, as every Rice player must of felt like dying after seeing Legan’s trey swish through the net with only five seconds left on the clock.
ECU’s 91 points were the most ever for the program in a Conference USA game, and helped up its record to 13-11 (5-6). It’s five conference wins are ECU’s highest total since joining C-USA.
The Pirates, who at one point were down by four in OT, rallied back and tied the game with 31 seconds left on the clock after a Young floater from the left baseline.
After a Sam Hinnant steal with 27 seconds remaining in the game, East Carolina coach Mack McCarthy called timeout to discuss the upcoming play.
The Pirates’ skipper had called for a high pick and roll between Young and forward Darrius Morrow, however, the sophomore point guard called an audible at the last second.
Young wasn’t the only one who had a change of heart. Had Legan’s shot not gone down, Young would have gotten flowers from his coach, but they would not have been for Valentines’ Day.
Young showed love to his teammates all night as he tied a school record with 14 assists, while racking up 17 points and three steals.
The nation’s leader in assists per game (7.6) also surpassed the East Carolina’s single season assist mark of 181 set by Darrel Jenkins last season.
Legan led the Pirates with 20 points, Hinnant racked up 17 and Morrow went 13-15 from the free throw line to net 19 points.
The Owls (8-16, 3-7) had one chance to tie the ball game and send it into a second overtime session, but was forced to go the length of the floor to do so.
ECU opted to not cover the inbounds passer and dropped five Pirates back into coverage. It would be a gamble that would pay off as Jamar Abrams intercepted Rice’s inbounds pass at midcourt.
Turnovers killed the Pirates early in the game as their 11 giveaways led to 20 Rice points and gave the Owls a 42-40 lead at halftime.
East Carolina only turned the ball over three times in the entire second half and overtime.
After the break, ECU jumped out to a five point lead after a Hinnant three early in the second half.
Hinnant was 5-9 from downtown and became only the fourth Pirate to connect on over 200 three pointers for his career.
With less than 10 minutes to go, a Chris Turner free throw put ECU up 65-58, but Rice rallied back behind the play of point guard Rodney Foster and center Trey Stanton.
Foster racked up a game-high 24 points, while Stanton was deadly inside and out and poured in 21 points.
The duo fueled a 17-10 run that ended with a Foster three that knotted the game at 75 apiece.
East Carolina looked like it wouldn’t need an overtime when, with 30 second remaining in the second half, Abrams (nine points, six rebounds) drilled a three to go up 80-77.
However, Foster answered back with a triple of his own to send the game into an extra session.
The Pirates will be back in action on Feb. 17 when it travels to Southern Miss.
RICE (8-16)
Braimoh 3-7 0-0 6, Stanton 8-15 1-2 21, Frizzelle 5-12 1-2 12, Foster 9-14 0-0 24, Ghoram 4-8 5-7 13, Schwarze 0-0 0-0 0, Herndon 1-1 0-0 2, Beasley 0-0 2-2 2, Pflieger 3-8 1-2 8. Totals 33-65 10-15 88.
Morrow 3-4 13-15 19, Wynn 2-4 0-0 4, Legan 6-10 4-4 20, Hinnant 6-10 0-0 17, Young 7-13 2-2 17, Kupets 0-0 0-0 0, Turner 1-5 1-2 3, Abrams 3-5 2-2 9, Sherrod 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 29-54 22-25 91.
Halftime—Rice 42-40. End Of Regulation—Tied 80. 3-Point Goals—Rice 12-26 (Foster 6-9, Stanton 4-6, Pflieger 1-4, Frizzelle 1-6, Ghoram 0-1), East Carolina 11-22 (Hinnant 5-9, Legan 4-7, Abrams 1-2, Young 1-3, Sherrod 0-1). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Rice 29 (Ghoram 8), East Carolina 32 (Abrams, Young 6). Assists—Rice 21 (Foster 6), East Carolina 20 (Young 14). Total Fouls—Rice 17, East Carolina 16. A—4,435.