Pirates fall to Blazers on Senior Night

Published 6:49 am Sunday, March 1, 2009

By By BRIAN HAINES, Sports Writer
GREENVILLE - The Pirates awoke from their dream of a winning season probably around the same time UAB’s swingman Robert Vaden snapped out of his nightmarish slump Saturday night to lead the Blazers to a 82-62 win over the Pirates on Senior Night.
The loss is the Pirates fourth straight, and lowers their record to 13-15 (5-10) with only one more regular season game left on schedule.
Vaden, Conference USA Preseason Player of the Year, entered the game having been held scoreless in UAB’s last contest, a loss to No. 5 Memphis, and his shooting woes continued throughout the first half against East Carolina as he headed into the break with zero points.
Unfortunately for the Pirates, his cold spell didn’t carry over into the second half.
Vaden scored all of his game-high 18 points in the final stanza to fuel a pivotal 26-8 run that handed Sam Hinnant and James Legan a loss in their final home game at Minges Coliseum.
East Carolina had played even with UAB (20-9, 10-4) of the course of the first 20 minutes, and were tied at 34 at the end of the first half, before Vaden and the Blazers caught fire.
Foul trouble decimated ECU on both ends of the floor as Pirates’ big men Chad Wynn and Darrius Morrow each recorded their third foul less then four minutes into the second half.
Forward Jamar Abrams played one of his best games all season as he led ECU with 18 points and 10 rebounds, but the help was just not there.
The lack of a post presence was exploited by UAB’s pair of 6-8 forwards Cameron Moore and Howard Crawford, who helped the Blazers out-board the Pirates 46-29.
Moore came off the bench to net 18 points and pull down eight boards, while Crawford posted 13 points and also grabbed eight rebounds. The duo kept the Blazers hot while stars Vaden, Lawrence Kinnard (eight points) and Paul Delaney III (five points) were cold.
Early on it looked as if ECU might pull off a Senior Night upset over the second-place Blazers as Hinnant drilled his first two shots of the game, both three pointers, to put the Pirates up 11-4 four minutes into the game.
Hinnant could not keep the hot hand as he finished the game 3-10 from the floor for 10 points.
Legan, a fellow senior, also struggled shooting 2-8 from the floor for five points.
Both were pulled out of the game with 48 seconds left on the clock so they could get a final applause from the crowd. The Pirates’ faithful did not disappoint, as they sent the seniors off with a standing ovation.
Legan said as he walked off the court he was filled with thoughts of Minges and the fans that have supported him throughout his time with the Pirates.