ECU slams Cavs

Published 5:51 pm Saturday, December 31, 2011

East Carolina center Darrius Morrow (1) dunks the ball during the Pirates’ 91-56 win over UVa.-Wise on Saturday in Greenville. Morrow finished the game with 15 points and eight rebounds. (WDN Photo/Brian Haines)

GREENVILLE — If the New Year starts the way 2011 left off than it will be a very happy one for the Pirates who on Saturday delivered their fifth straight win by blowing out UVa.-Wise 91-56.
Junior forward Maurice Kemp continued his stellar play of late as he recorded his third straight double-double and fourth of the season netting a career-high 25 points and collecting14 rebounds to help East Carolina up its record to 9-4.
Also shining bright in the 2011 finale was freshman guard Paris Roberts-Campbell who erupted for 12 straight points in the second half to tally a career-high 17.
Senior center Darrius Morrow also reached double digits in the scoring column as he accumulated 15 points to go along with his eight boards.
With the win, the Pirates now take five games worth of momentum into their Conference USA opener at Southern Miss on Tuesday.
“It’s big. It’s good to get it rolling going into conference. That’s huge for us,” Kemp said. “We hope to keep it up and keep it going.”
Since their 10-day break for finals the Pirates have been able to keep up their shooting percentage up as they have made over 40 percent of their shots in every contest during that span and on Saturday ECU made a season-high 58.5 percent of its attempts. East Carolina began the first half shooting 52.8 percent and in the second half shot a blistering 65.5 percent from the floor to easily cruise past the Cavaliers (3-6, NAIA).
The Pirates showed their dominance early as back-to-back Morrow dunks put the team up 7-4 and a Roberts-Campbell 3 extended ECU’s advantage to 18-8 with 13:28 left in the half. The Pirates would take a 45-21 lead into halftime.
Possessing a comfortable lead for most of the game allowed East Carolina coach Jeff Lebo to use his bench liberally as nine players posted points for the Pirates.
“We played a lot of the guys who don’t play a lot. That was the big thing, getting them some minutes,” Lebo said. “Darius Morales got some minutes. Peter (Torlak’s) brother is here from Serbia. He’s been here since the holidays and he got to see his brother play. Those guys work hard in practice and it was nice to be able to give them some extended minutes.”
Morales played 21 minutes and scored four points and grabbed five rebounds while Torlak tallied six points, eight boards and two assists in his 24 minutes of action.
One guy who did not see any court time was sophomore forward Robert Sampson who hurt his ankle during Thursday’s win over N.C. Central and did not suit up on Saturday. His status is yet to be determined for Tuesday’s C-USA opener.
“We’ll see. He’s getting some treatment over the next two days and we’ll see how he feels,” Lebo said. “Right now we don’t know.”
Somebody who was feeling pretty good on Saturday was Roberts-Campbell as he got in the game for 22 minutes and made his presence felt in the second half when he nailed a three to give ECU a 59-29 lead at the 15:12 mark. Roberts-Campbell would go on to score nine more points in a row to extended the Pirates’ lead to 68-35.
The freshman shooting guard entered Saturday’s game making a mere 25 percent of his shots but on Saturday he went 3 for 5 from downtown and 6 for 9 overall.
“I just needed to see one go down,” Roberts-Campbell said. “I’ve been coming every day to get extra shots in so I could knock them down during the game.”
While ECU was scorching hot, the Cavs were cold as ice as they shot 26.3 percent from three-point range and 28.8 percent from the floor.
Darius Smith led the Cavs with 17 points while Travis Berry scored 13 and Norris Gaskins added 11.