Morrow responds in ECU blowout|Leads Pirates with 21 points

Published 8:22 am Sunday, November 28, 2010

By By BRIAN HAINES,, Sports Writer
GREENVILLE — Leading up to East Carolina’s game against UNC-Greensboro there have been plenty questions swirling around Darrius Morrow’s work ethic and conditioning. On Saturday, the power forward responded by out-working the Spartan defenders in the paint and posting a game-high 21 points and six rebounds to lead the Pirates to an 81-53 victory.
The 6-8, 255-pound junior played with the type of fire an intensity that was missing in ECU’s last game, a 71-48 blowout over Lenoir-Rhyne, and showed an array of post moves that kept the UNC-Greensboro defenders guessing all night long.
“I’ve just been stressing going harder in practice so it will be more game-like, this way I can come out and perform when it’s game time,” Morrow said.
Pirates first-year coach Jeff Lebo has been on Morrow about his weight and conditioning since the beginning of the season. On Saturday, Morrow said has been trying to take the right steps to please his coach.
“I think I’ve responded, I think my conditioning is getting better daily,” Morrow said. “I’m just learning, maturing and trying to play through the fatigue.”
The Spartans (0-4, SoCon) barely made the Pirates (5-2) sweat as ECU jumped out to a 10-2 lead early thanks to two three-pointers from Erin Straughn (9 points, 6 rebounds) and a few free throws by Morrow.
East Carolina maintained a steady distance from UNCG, who is coached by ECU Alum Mike Dement, and took a 22-12 lead midway through the first half when senior point guard Brock Young knifed through the Spartans’ defense from the left side only to finish his shot off on the right side of the glass.
The move not only gave ECU a 10-point lead, but showed that the point guard is gaining confidence in his rehabbing knee.
Young, who finished with 10 points and five assists in 25 minutes, got his first start of the season due to the fact that Jontae Sherrod (17 points, 6 rebounds) was late for a team meeting.
Young’s five-assist effort gave him 501 for his career and made him only the seventh player in Conference USA history to pass the 500-mark.
“He’s starting to look a little bit more comfortable out there,” Lebo said. “It takes a long time to get your timing and your comfort level back when you have been out. He just needs to build upon it every single day.”
The Pirates have built a two-game winning streak and on Saturday the team showed a lot positive aspects it can build around.
East Carolina had four players score in double figures as Jamar Abrams (13) joined the club with Morrow, Young and Sherrod. The team also was a force on the glass as it out-rebounded the Spartans 41-25 and held them to 35 percent shooting from the field and 23 percent shooting from down town.
The Pirates on the other hand, shot a sizzling 54 percent from the floor and 50 percent from beyond the arc in the blowout.
The Spartans, who were led by Korey Van Dussen’s 13 points and Trevis Simpson’s 10, cut the ECU lead to 53-43 with under a little over 12 minutes to go in the game, but the Pirates blew them out of the water with a 20-6 run that left them ahead 73-49 with under four minutes to go.
“I was very pleased with our effort tonight. I thought that’s as good as we played this year both offensively and defensively,” Lebo said. “There was a four or five minute stretch during the second half that we were awfully good. We were well-balanced tonight, I thought Darrius was terrific. He worked, we got him the ball and he finished. Hopefully he can take another step forward in our next game.”
The Pirates will be back in action on Dec. 1, when they host Charlotte at 7 p.m.