Pirates Use Second Half Surge To Put Out Blazers
Feb. 13, 2013
GREENVILLE, N.C. -- Maurice Kemp posted his third consecutive 20-point scoring game Wednesday night, leading East Carolina to a 74-61 win over UAB and giving the Pirates their first-ever win over the Blazers at home.
Kemp scored 23 points on 7-of-10 shooting and made 8-of-8 free-throw attempts for the Pirates (14-9, 5-5), who had four players in double figures. Akeem Richmond added 15 points off the bench in 19 minutes of action, while Ty Armstrong scored 12.
Miguel Paul posted his second consecutive double-double with 11 points and 11 assists.
The Pirates have won four of the last five games against the Blazers (11-14, 3-7) after dropping 11 of the first 12 meetings in the series. The win gives East Carolina its first season sweep of the Blazers, whom it defeated 91-85 on Jan. 23 in Birmingham.
The game was played with "Voice of the Pirates" Jeff Charles calling his first game since December 1. Charles had missed the previous 16 games while battling colon cancer. He received a standing ovation during the first media timeout.
UAB (11-14, 3-7) was coming off a season-best 9-of-16 shooting performance from 3-point range against Marshall, but hit just 2-of-16 from deep Wednesday.
"I'm proud of my group," ECU Head Coach Jeff Lebo said. "I thought we came out with a lot of energy and I thought our mindset was good for the whole game. We did a good job executing our game plan, particularly trying to take the 3-point shot away from UAB. That's how they've been beating people.
"I thought it was a good team win, I really liked it. I really liked their energy"
Forward Rod Rucker led the way with 14 points, but none of the Blazers' guards reached double figures.
Rucker scored the game's first six points as the Pirates fell behind quickly.
East Carolina scored nine unanswered points to take a 13-8 lead, making 5-of-9 shots to start the game.
The game was tied at 13 and 17 before UAB took its final lead of the night, 19-17, with 8:50 remaining in the opening half.
Richmond's first of three 3-pointers put ECU ahead 20-19, but the Pirates were unable to put any distance between themselves and the Blazers during the first half and held just a 4-point advantage at intermission, 38-34.
Both teams shot the ball exceptionally well in the first half. The Pirates connected on 60 percent of their shots (15-of-25) and UAB made 55.6 percent of its field goal attempts (15-of-27).
Although neither team was able to keep up the pace after halftime, it was the Pirates who proved to have the stingier defense and limited the Blazers to just 32.4 percent shooting.
"I really liked their toughness defensively for longer periods of time," Lebo explained. "I've been harping on our guys about that and we did a much better job tonight."
Following Robert Sampson's tip-in to start the second half, Kemp scored the Pirates next seven points to double the lead only to have Preston Purifoy cut it back in half with 12:09 to play, 49-45.
Richmond and Paul then made back-to-back 3s sparking a 15-2 run, which included 12 unanswered points, that made it 64-47. Richmond capped the run by sinking three free throws after being fouled while shooting outside the arc as the Pirates held UAB scoreless for 2:35.
The Blazers then began to mount a comeback and scored 11 straight points to pull within six, 64-58, holding East Carolina without a point for almost six minutes.
"Give them credit they weren't going to go away," Lebo said. "We got to the foul line late and iced it from there."
After Robert Williams missed the second of two free throws, Armstrong broke the drought with a basket underneath with 2:37 to play to make it a three-possession game.
Kemp and Paul each went 4-of-4 at the free throw line in the final minute to seal the victory.
The Pirates, ranked eighth nationally, averaging 17.1 assists, had 16 helpers. UAB entered ranked 10th with 16.7 assists per game, and had 15 Wednesday.
ECU played without the services of senior guard Corvonn Gaines, who was injured in practice earlier this week.