Pirates hold off ASU

Published 10:41 pm Tuesday, November 20, 2012

East Carolina’s Robert Sampson (left) scored 17 points and grabbed 18 rebounds during the team’s 82-72 win over Appalachian State on Tuesday in Greenville. (WDN Photo/Brian Haines)

GREENVILLE — East Carolina’s dynamic duo of rangy forwards Robert Sampson and Maurice Kemp continued to be the driving force behind the Pirates undefeated season as the twin tower forwards each recorded double-doubles in their 82-72 victory over Appalachian State on Tuesday.
Sampson gave a tireless effort in the paint as he recorded 10 rebounds in the first half alone and would finish grabbing a career-high 18 to go along with his 17 points.
“Robert Sampson was terrific tonight in a lot of areas,” East Carolina coach Jeff Lebo said. “I thought he was good defensively, along with obviously his rebounding. Eighteen rebounds is a big night in Div. I; that’s a lot of rebounds in a game.”
For Sampson, it was just another day’s work.
“It’s something I don’t think about, that’s what we’re supposed to do,” Sampson said. “(We’re supposed) to rebound and play defense, shoot well and just keep going as hard as we can, and if we win or lose, hey, at least we know we played hard.”
The win was the fourth straight for the Pirates (4-0, C-USA), giving them their best start since the 2002-03 season when they began the year 7-0 under then-coach Bill Herrion.
Sampson’s partner in crime Kemp slashed and slammed his way through the Mountaineers defense to pace the Pirates with 21 points. Kemp registered his second straight double-double by tallying 11 rebounds.
Defensively, Kemp added a game-high four blocked shots and swiped two steals, but was not happy with his individual defensive effort as he and the Pirates allowed West Craven native Nathan Healy to rack up 24 points on 9-for-15 shooting from the field.
“Me personally, I know I got to pick it up on the defensive end,” Kemp said. “That was a terrible performance defensively from me.”
Appalachian State (1-3, SoCon) scored first and held a 6-5 lead less than three minutes into the game before a bucket by ECU center Ty Armstrong put the Pirates ahead 7-6. East Carolina would hold the lead from that point on, but the pesky Mountaineers made them work for their fourth win.
Every time it appeared ECU was gaining momentum Healy or guard Jay Canty, who led all scorers with 25 points, would make a basket.
ASU, who was behind 38-33 at halftime, closed the gap to 40-38 after a Tab Hamilton jumper, but the Pirates got themselves some breathing room when Shamarr Bowden hit a three to make it 52-46.
A Miguel Paul free throw gave ECU its largest lead of the night, 65-55, at the 6:45 mark.
Paul would end the contest dishing out a game-high six assists to go along with his 14 points.
Behind the efforts of Healy and Canty, the Mountaineers would continue to threaten and got as close as 72-69 with 3:17 to go but could not get over the hump.
“We had chances (to close out the game) but we weren’t as sharp as we needed to be offensively,” Lebo said. “We scored 82 points, but Miguel didn’t make a three in the game and we shot 4-of-16 from three. That’s an area that I thought we would be pretty solid.”