Spears lifts Charlotte over East Carolina

Published 6:48 am Saturday, November 20, 2010

By By PETE IACOBELLI, AP Sports Writer
CHARLESTON, S.C. — Shamari Spears had 12 of his 15 points in the second half as Charlotte defeated East Carolina 74-63 at the Charleston Classic on Friday night.
Derrio Green had 14 points for the 49ers (3-2), who had five players in double figures and will face Coastal Carolina for fifth place in the eight-team tournament Sunday.
East Carolina (2-2) has lost both its games at First Carolina Arena and will try and avoid a sweep Sunday morning against USC Upstate.
Spears, a 6-foot-6 senior, helped Charlotte break open a tight game between the North Carolina schools. He had three consecutive baskets to give the 49ers a 53-48 lead midway through the second period. And after teammate Jamar Briscoe’s long 3-pointer, Spears hit a pair of foul shots to extend the lead further.
Darrius Morrow was East Carolina’s only player in double figures with 13 points. He also had 10 rebounds.
Spears, a third-team all-Atlantic 10 selection last season, was just 1 of 6 in the first half as the 49ers couldn’t shake East Carolina. His percentage picked up after the break, making four of his five attempts.
Green’s production included half of Charlotte’s six 3-pointers. Briscoe finished with 12 points and An’Juan Wilderness 11.
49ers center Phil Jones matched his career best with 12 rebounds. He also had a pair of blocks, giving him 10 in four games this season.
East Carolina and Charlotte met for the first of two games against each other in less than two weeks. They play again in Greenville, N.C., on Dec. 1.
Both teams are also trying to find some footing under new leadership. The Pirates brought in former North Carolina standout and ex-Auburn coach Jeff Lebo while Charlotte hired former Ohio State assistant Alan Major.
The schools played a tight first half with East Carolina battling back each time Charlotte threatened to take control.
The 49ers went up 20-15 on Spears’ foul shot, but 4 minutes later Darrius Morrow’s inside basket gave East Carolina a 23-22 lead.
Phil Jones had consecutive buckets to push Charlotte to a 31-27 lead and again East Carolina came back, tying things at 33 on Chad Wynn’s three-point play.
Charlotte finally took control in the second half with an 19-8 run that pushed the lead to 66-54.
The Pirates closed the gap to 69-62 on Corvonn Gaines’ layup with 50 seconds left, but Spears made two foul shots to end the threat.