East Carolina effort not enough to overthrow Monarchs|By BRIAN HAINES, Brian@wdnweb.com, Sports Writer

Published 10:53 am Wednesday, December 8, 2010

By Staff
GREENVILLE — After winning five games in a row East Carolina was looking to make a statement on Tuesday when it hosted Old Dominion, a team that won 27 games last season. By losing 81-68, the Pirates may not have made the declaration they were hoping for, but by keeping it close for a majority of the game they were able to send a message to fans that there are slowly improving.
With only seven minutes left in the game, East Carolina (7-3) came within a point of ODU (6-2, CAA) after a Jamar Abrams three-pointer made it 62-61.
However, just as ECU looked like it might get hot, the Monarchs showed they were kings of the castle as they ripped off a 13-2 run that lasted four minutes and left the Pirates trailing 75-63 with three minutes left in the game.
East Carolina may not have been able to win its sixth in a row, but hanging with a team that has already beaten Clemson and Xavier should take some of the sting off the loss.
“We knew this was going to be a true test for us. We haven’t consistently been tested to date so we were going to find out some things about the team and I think we did,” Lebo said.
“We can compete when we do the things that are necessary, the things that good basketball teams do. (ODU) beats everybody on the boards, but we didn’t get annihilated on the glass (33-25). … We just have to take better care of the ball. We have to value the basketball … If you can cut five turnovers off the game, and the points they were going to get off it, then we were right there.”
Led by an outstanding effort by Abrams, who scored a game-high 22 points by shooting 50 percent on the night, the Pirates were able to hang around the Monarchs for most of the contest.
However, Abrams’ hot hand was not enough to mask 16 Pirates’ turnovers that led to 27 points for ODU.
ECU point guard Brock Young, who was recovering from knee surgery during the offseason, had an off night as he shot 1-for-6 from the floor for seven points and had five assists to seven turnovers.
Lebo said having played three games in eight days may have taken its toll on Young, but conceded that sloppy play down the stretch killed any chance of an ECU upset.
“When you play a really good team like that you can’t have the mistakes that we had,” Lebo said. “We just had way too many turnovers that led to points and that was really the biggest glaring thing in the game. We had 16 of them that led to 27 points, that is a lot.”
Another factor was the length of ODU as frontcourt duo of 6-8 Keyon Carter (eight points) and 6-9 Frank Hassell (eight points, seven rebounds) gave the Pirates fits all game.
That tandem held Pirates forward Darrius Morrow, who scored 14 points, to only three rebounds.
Then of course there was the return of Bertie product Kent Bazemore. The 6-5 junior guard turned in a monster performance on defense and led the Monarchs with 20 points, while he pulled down five rebounds to held his team bounce back from their stunning 75-67 loss to Delaware on Saturday.
East Carolina will look to bounce back on Dec. 18 when it hits the road to take on Coastal Carolina.