ECU Falls In C-USA Opener, 77-67
Jan. 11, 2006
GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP) - Rodney Carney hit six 3-pointers and scored 27 points to lead No. 5 Memphis past East Carolina 77-67 on Wednesday night in the Conference USA opener for both teams.
Shawne Williams added 13 points and 12 rebounds for the Tigers (14-2), who have won all four meetings in the series.
Corey Rouse had 20 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Pirates (6-8).
Memphis was the highest-ranked team ever to visit Minges Coliseum, a place where the Pirates have had recent success against ranked teams. They earned two wins against Marquette, beating the ninth-ranked Golden Eagles in 2001-02 and the Dwyane Wade-led Final Four team that was ranked 13th the following season.
But East Carolina was 1-7 against other ranked teams at Minges, and the Tigers added another loss to that mark - though not without quite a fight from the Pirates.
The Tigers, whose only losses were to top-ranked Duke and No. 8 Texas - struggled with their shooting most of the night, opting for plenty of 3-point attempts against the Pirates' matchup zone. Memphis shot just 37 percent, including 10-for-35 from behind the arc, and had trouble getting easy baskets in transition.
But, with the game tied at halftime, Memphis did enough after the break in front of a rowdy and hostile sellout crowd to win in its first road game in nearly a month.
The Tigers went ahead to stay on Williams' stickback of his own missed tip for a 51-50 lead with 12 minutes left, and pushed the lead to 58-52 on a 3 from Darius Washington Jr. with 8:16 left.
The Pirates answered on the next play, getting a 3 from Courtney Captain to cut the deficit to three. But the Pirates struggled getting open looks from there against the long and athletic Tigers defenders, failing to hit another shot until the final minute.
Carney followed Captain's 3 with one on the next play to put the Tigers up 61-55 with 7:46 left.
East Carolina got as close as 61-59 on two free throws from Rouse with 5:16 left, but Williams knocked down a 3 off penetration by Antonio Anderson on the next possession to make it 64-59.
The Pirates had several chances afterward, but they missed five free throws in the second half. They also couldn't shake out of their shooting drought in time, going without a field goal until Rouse banked in a long 3-pointer to make it 73-67 with 26 seconds left.