ECU nets hat trick

Published 10:31 pm Thursday, December 22, 2011

East Carolina forward Maurice Kemp (2) attempts a layup during a game earlier this year. On Thursday, Kemp had 18 points, 13 rebounds and four steals to lead the Pirates to a 69-55 win over Gardner-Webb. (WDN Photo/Brian Haines)

GREENVILLE — For the third straight game East Carolina shot over 40 percent and for the third straight contest the Pirates walked away victorious as they topped Gardner-Webb 69-55 on Thursday.
The Pirates (7-4, Conference USA) had four players reach double-digit scoring totals and two players record double-doubles to head into the holiday weekend on a high note.
“It’s a good team win, everybody in the locker room is happy,” said East Carolina center Darrius Morrow.
Morrow had plenty of reasons to be merry as he scored a game-high 19 points and pulled down 10 rebounds, while forward Maurice Kemp racked up 18 points and recorded game-highs in rebounds and steals with 13 and four, respectively, to pace the Pirates.
East Carolina also got a big games from shooting guard Shamarr Bowden and point guard Miguel Paul who combined to give ECU some punch on the perimeter.
Bowden, who has started the last three games, went 3-for-5 from three-point range to tally 13 points. Paul’s 10 points were six below his average but the junior also dished out a game-high eight assists.
“We got four guys that scored double figures and that was big,” East Carolina coach Jeff Lebo said.
The Pirates started off the game hot as they jumped out to a 14-6 lead after a Bowden three-pointer and a Morrow three-point play. However, Gardner-Webb (6-8, Big South) retaliated behind the play of Kevin Hartley, Max Landis and Tashan Newsome, who each had six first-half points.
Landis and Newsome would finish the game with 12 points each to lead their team.
The Bulldogs were able to keep up pace with East Carolina thanks to some sizzling outside shooting early as they connected on 50 percent of their three-pointers to go into halftime down 31-29.
Landis drilled his first shot of the second half, a three-pointer, to put his team up 32-31 less than a minute into the second stanza but the Bulldogs would not be able to sustain the advantage.
East Carolina broke the game open 15-6 run that extended its lead from 43-40 to 58-46 and featured two big threes by Corvonn Gaines that reinvigorated the crowd and recaptured momentum.
Heading into Thursday’s game Gaines had made only one of his 10 attempts from beyond the arc but against the Bulldogs he was a perfect 2-for-2 from downtown to tally seven points.
“Corvonn Gaines hit two huge threes for us,” Lebo said. “It was good to see him make some (shots) and he’s probably a little relieved that he saw the ball go through the bucket.”
The Pirates were also happy to see their free throws fall through the nylon. ECU has had its share of struggles at the charity stripe but on Thursday the team hit 22 of its 28 attempts and went 19-for-23 in the second half to seal their victory.
“That was big,” Lebo said. “We shot good the whole night, almost 79 percent (78.6) from the line. We got there 28 times, you have to feel good about that.”