Pirates basketball wraps up regular season at home|ECU looks to finish strong

Published 3:00 am Saturday, March 6, 2010

Sports Writer

GREENVILLE – The Pirates will wrap up their regular season tonight at home when they take on Southern Miss, and going out with a win would be a nice treat for all the fans that have stood by the Purple and Gold this year.
East Carolina (10-19, 4-11) has had its fair share of struggles inside Minges Coliseum where it has gone 5-8 overall and has won only one game in seven attempts versus Conference USA opponents.
Though it has been a long year for ECU, the players are still battling as evidence by their 68-66 win over UCF in its most recent outing, an its second-half rally against SMU the previous time out. While the Pirates’ rally against the Mustangs fell short, it was nice to see that they didn’t pack it in early.
Against Central Florida, Jamar Abrams paced the Pirates with 20 points, while Darrius Morrow added 14. Brock Young, who twisted his ankle during the game and missed some minutes, finished with eight points.
Young leads the Pirates in scoring with a 15. 3 points per game average, which is seventh in Conference USA, while his 5.6 assists per night is tied for first with UTEP’s Julyan Stone.
Beating the Knights on the road Tuesday opened up the door for the Pirates to do two things that didn’t look possible around December.
With the win, ECU now has a chance to tie its Conference USA win total from last season. While going 5-11 in league play may not be much to brag about, it’s better than finishing with a worse record than the previous year, and right now ECU hoops needs all the positives it can hang its hat on.
The win over UCF also give ECU another shot at wining back-to-back games for only the second time this year. The Pirates did that feat once in late November when they beat South Dakota State and UNC-Greensboro, respectively.
East Carolina will look to do both of those things tonight when it hosts the Eagles, who come into Greenville sitting in sixth place in Conference USA with a 17-12 (7-8) record.
These two teams clashed on Jan. 23 in Greenville, a battle USM won 68-53.
Southern Miss is led by junior forward Garry Flowers, who is 10th in the league in scoring (14.8 ppg), seventh in rebounding (8.1 rpg) and fourth in blocks (1.8 bpg.) The 6-8 Flowers is very versatile and will be a tough matchup for ECU.
In their last game, Flowers and Maurice Bolden led the Eagles to a 66-57 victory over Tulane in which they each tallied double-doubles. Flowers scored 16 points and pulled down 11 boards, while Bolden netted 16 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.
Southern Miss is powered by a staunch defense that is ranked first in C-USA in points allowed with a 59.9 average. The Eagles also hit the glass hard and have the highest rebounding margin (+ 7) of any team in the conference.
The game tips off at 8 p.m.