Temple spoils ECU Senior Night

Published 11:13 pm Thursday, March 5, 2015

GREENVILLE — On a night where undisputed five-star recruit and Pinetown-native Edrice “Bam” Adebayo made an official visit, and East Carolina basketball celebrated the careers of seniors Paris Roberts-Campbell, Antonio Robinson and Francis Edosomwan, not much went right for the home team in Minges Coliseum.

A power failure caused a lack of lighting, which delayed the 7 p.m. start time by 20 minutes and the game that followed was almost equally bizarre and ugly for Pirate fans, as Temple cruised to a 70-56 win.

The two halves were polar opposites, as the two teams combined for 73 points in the first compared to 52 in the second.

The Owls (21-9, 12-5 American), who are fighting for an at-large bid in the NCAA tournament, out-shot their game average of 6.5 threes per contest with seven in the first half. ECU (13-17, 6-11 American) was almost as impressive on the offensive end, shooting 46.2 percent, but the Owls carved up the Pirate zone with effectiveness and took a 41-33 lead into the locker room.

The second half was not as kind to ECU as the Pirates collapsed down the stretch after hanging around an eight-point deficit for the majority of the period. Small forward Caleb White was the only Pirate who finished in double figures with 13 points.

“We got out of rhythm in the second half,” White said. “And it didn’t help that shots didn’t fall. Our offense wasn’t fluid at all; we weren’t finding good shots.”

ECU trailed just 54-49 at the 13:10 mark, but the Pirates would go on to score just seven points until the end of regulation. The offense looked particularly looked out of sync after point guard Antonio Robinson, playing in his final game at Minges, obtained a slight leg injury on a layup at the 10:15 mark and was forced to come out of the game.

“[Robinson] is such a big part of our offense,” White said. “He runs the team so well so when he went out, it was a bit of a different feel for us and we just couldn’t get it going after that.”

Robinson’s departure was big, but Temple’s defense caused most of ECU’s struggles, particularly around the perimeter, as two of ECU’s top scorers in guards B.J. Tyson and Terry Whisnant combined for just 17 points.

Jacksonville, Fl. native and Temple senior Will Cummings played how the league is accustomed to seeing him play this year. The all-conference candidate accounted for 16 points, seven rebounds, six assists and zero turnovers. But his largest impact may have been felt on the defensive end, picking up three steals. It’s no coincidence that Tyson and Whisnant had off nights, as both play shooting guard and were hounded by Cummings for much of the contest.

“He’s a great leader for us,” said Temple’s nine-year head coach Fran Dunphy. “He’s been a terrific player for us all year long and I’m very happy for him as he goes about ending his college career.”

Three Owls (Cummings, Quenton Decosey and Josh Brown) scored in double figures Thursday aided by 41-34 rebounding advantage; 16 Temple boards came on the offensive end. ECU head coach Jeff Lebo was impressed by Dunphy’s squad as a whole.

“We lost to an outstanding basketball team tonight — an NCAA tournament team,” he said. “They’re not flashy but they’re solid at every aspect of the game. They can rebound, they defend, they share the ball and they don’t turn it over.”

ECU’s regular season wraps up Sunday with a road tilt at Houston (11-18, 3-14). The Pirates currently sit seventh in the American standings and would secure that position with a win, likely setting up a rematch with the Cougars in the first round of the AAC tournament. A matchup with South Florida in the first game is also in the cards.