Sherrod a real hot shot|Battles cold to score 23 points in Pirates win

Published 11:43 pm Sunday, February 6, 2011

By By BRIAN HAINES,, Sports Writer
GREENVILLE – Jontae Sherrod’s temperature may have been running hot on Saturday, but so was his jump shot as the East Carolina guard shot 50 percent from downtown to tally a team-high 23 points to fuel the Pirates past Central Florida 68-61 on Saturday.
The win lifts ECU’s record to 13-10 (5-4), giving the program its first winning record this late in the season since the 2002-03 season when the team was 12-10.
Sherrod, who has been battling a cold all week, played sparingly in the first half but came out on fire in the second where he scored 19 of his team-high 23 points.
Entering the second half down 39-34, the senior shooting guard from Tarboro teamed up with junior forward Darrius Morrow (15 points) to spark a 22-5 East Carolina run that put the team up 56-44 with 9:26 left to go in the game. During that stretch Sherrod looked unguardable as not only drilled four three-pointers and but also beat defenders off the dribble en route to his sixth 20-point game of the season.
Both Sherrod and Morrow, who only played six minutes in the first half after getting whistled for two fouls in the first minute of the game, where itching to get back out on the court in the second stanza.
“When we were in the locker room (at halftime) D-Mo came to me and said ‘Let’s go,’” Sherrod said. “He said we got to come out this half ready to go, and we did.”
Morrow grabbed a team-high six rebounds to go with his 15 points, and in doing so became only the 21st player in ECU history to collect over 500 rebounds. Morrow ended the game with career total of 505 boards as the Pirates swept UCF for the first time in school history.
East Carolina coach Jeff Lebo did a nice job of juggling his foul-plagued roster in the first half and said he was happy to see his team gut out a win.
“I’m just really proud of the group here to be able to find a way to win and overcome the adversity in the first half,” Lebo said. “I thought defensively in the second half we were awfully good.”
Central Florida shooting guard Marcus Jordan, son of NBA Hall of Famer Michael Jordan, was also ready to go as he scored a game-high 24 points for the Knights but could not stop the once ranked team from losing its seventh straight contest.
The Pirates held the Knights to 38 percent shooting, and most importantly, limited them to 15 percent from behind the arc. ECU also forced UCF into 18 turnovers, while only giving up the ball 10 times itself.
In front of a season-high crowd of 6,567 charged Pirates’ fans, East Carolina overcome its early foul troubles, took care of the basketball and played air-tight defense on UCF’s prized sophomore big man Keith Clanton, who finished the game with only six points and nine rebounds.
“We just wanted him to see bodies,” Morrow said. “He tried to post up on some smaller post players but when he came in the lane we wanted to double team and make him take tough shots and keep him off the glass.”
The Knights would not go down easy as they rode the efforts of Jordan, whose driving layup cut East Carolina’s lead to 65-61 with a little under a minute left in the game and put a scare into ECU’ fans. However, they could breath easy after Sherrod went 2-for-2 from the free throw line with 12.6 seconds left to put the game out of reach.
The Pirates also got a strong effort from senior forward Jamar Abrams, who bounced back from an 0-7 (0-5 from three-point range) game in the team’s loss to SMU earlier in the week and came up with 12 points and five rebounds. Abrams’ had an impact on the game early as he scored all 12 of his points in the first half.
“When you struggle you want to get to the foul line and once he got there and made a basket (he was ok),” Lebo said. “I know I was received but I think he was a lot more relieved than I was.”