East Carolina Falls to Memphis
Jan. 13, 2010
From staff and wire reports
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Wesley Witherspoon scored 22 points and Doneal Mack added 15 as Memphis extended its Conference USA winning streak to 63 games with a 77-57 victory over East Carolina on Wednesday night.
The victory pulled the Tigers (12-4, 2-0 C-USA) within one game of Kentucky's 64 straight conference wins in the late 1940s - the longest such streak in NCAA history.
However, the NCAA has ruled that the Tigers will forfeit their 38 wins - 19 of them in Conference USA play - in the 2007-08 season because of questions about guard Derrick Rose's eligibility.
Memphis has appealed the ruling.
Willie Kemp added 13 for Memphis, which has not lost in the conference since March 2, 2006 at UAB.
Witherspoon was 6-of-8 from the field and 9-of-10 from the line.
Brock Young led the Pirates (6-11, 0-3) with 21 points, Jontae Sherrod added 11 and Jamar Abrams had 10. Freshman Erin Straughn had five points, three rebounds and two assists as he made his first career start.
The Pirates stay within striking distance of the home standing Tigers throughout the first half and didn't allow them to take their fist double digit lead until Willie Kemp sank a 3 with 3:07 left for a 28-17 lead. The Pirates closed out the half on a 9-5 run, scoring the last five points, and trailed by seven at halftime, 33-26.
The Tigers came out firing in the second half and opened on a 13-1 run to extend their lead to 48-27 at the 16:14 mark. The Pirates then made a 12-1 run of their own to climb back into the game and trailed just 49-40 with 11:34 to play.
Memphis then began to pull away and extended its lead to 60-43 after a 12-0 run sparked by seven points from Mack. The Tigers would extend their lead to as many as 23 when a three point basket by Drew Barham made it 77-54 at the 1:11 mark.
ECU shot 36.0 percent from the floor and 35.3 percent from behind the arc, making 6-of-17 long range attempts. The Pirates continued to shoot the ball well at the free throw line as they sank 15-of-18 attempts (83.3 percent).
Memphis used its athletic abilities to force ECU into 17 turnovers and convert them into 24 points, while it scored 30 points in the paint compared to just 10 by the Pirates.
East Carolina will return to the hardwood Saturday, Jan. 16, against Houston. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. inside Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum.