Trojans fly past Flight in OT

Published 6:04 pm Monday, November 21, 2011

East Carolina Trojans Owner Tyrone Wilson was talkative during his team’s first home game at Washington High School. “People are going to get something that Washington has never had: excitement out of a pro team,” said the owner of the ABA franchise during the second quarter of his team’s battle with the Fayetteville Flight. The Trojans delivered on those high expectations as they flew past the Flight in a nail-biting 115-113 overtime victory on Sunday. Led by Raheem Smith’s and Elton Coffield’s combined 57 points and an up-tempo offense, the Trojans were able to prevail before a vocal audience. Smith led all scorers with 35 points, while Josh Phillip scored 25 and Coffield added 22. Fayetteville’s Marcus Watts opened the game by powering inside for a three point play. However the Trojans stayed close and held a 26-24 lead at the end of the first quarter. They stretched that lead to marks of 36-26 and 46-38 before closing the half ahead 56-49. Later, the Trojans were down twice late in the game after the Flight had connected on a few three-pointers. However, Smith turned in a clutch performance with a steal to put the Trojans ahead 100-99. He then drew a foul and delivered on the back end of a pair of free throws to tie the game at 101-101 at the end of regulation. Smith drew the honors of hitting the game-winning shot for his team. He received the ball on a final play and was able to follow through with a defender in his face. “It’s just confidence. I knew (the shot) was going down. Coach told me I had a green light, so I just took the shot,” he said after the game. Fayetteville’s coach Angela Calloway praised the Trojans perfomance after the game. “There were a lot of technical difficulties in the game that should have been worked out before we got here. But it was a good game overall,” she noted. The Trojans have a three-month season in their first year of existence and will face a variety of opponents from across the country. The win over the Flight brings the Trojans record to 1-1 after a season-opening loss to the Richmond Elite, who they will have a home rematch with the next week. Wilson said he feels his team will be better prepared for the sequel. “We were playing ragged, but all the guys they were frustrated, because they knew they were facing a better team,” Wilson said. “But we are going to get everything right this next time.”