Morrow Leads Pirates Over Coker
Nov. 17, 2011
GREENVILLE, N.C. --- Senior Darrius Morrow scored a season-high 25 points and junior Miguel Paul added 10 as East Carolina pulled away from Coker to post a 63-50 victory over the Cobras inside Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum Thursday night.
Paul made three consecutive 3-pointers to send the Pirates (2-1) out to a 15-point lead with 8:33 remaining. ECU missed its first 10 3-point attempts before Paul drilled its first with 10:45 to play. It finished 4-of-17 from behind the arc with Robert Sampson making the Pirates' fourth and final 3 of the night.
After Paul gave ECU a 52-37 lead, Coker (2-1) went on a 9-2 run to cut its deficit to eight with 4:27 remaining. Sophomore Petar Torlak then made a lay-up, and Morrow sank a pair of free throws before Sampson delivered the knockout blow with a 3 from the top of the key with 2:14 left.
The Pirates overcame a 23.5 percent shooting performance from behind the arc by going inside and scoring 34 points in the paint. Morrow scored 18 points in the lane with Sampson and Steed each getting four points inside the painted area.
"It wasn't a pretty game, but it was a win," Pirate head coach Jeff Lebo said. "We were able to establish Darrius Morrow inside which I thought was really good. Our concern still is who is going to be our third, fourth, and fifth guys. We got some guys that can shoot the ball. We just haven't had any success since the Milligan game."
Morrow scored the game's first seven points, pushing the Pirates out to a 9-2 lead less than three minutes into the game. Coker then put together an 11-4 run of its own to tie the game at 13.
Morrow made his first five field goals, scoring the Pirates' first 11 points, and finished 7-of-9 from the floor in the first half with 16 points.
"I thought my teammates did a great job establishing the inside first, which was part of the game plan," Morrow explained. "I just came out and made some shots early, but the credits goes to my teammates for setting me up and were able to deliver the ball where I could catch it and score."
After the game became tied for the third and final time at 17, Sampson's offensive rebound and subsequent basket out the Pirates ahead to stay at 19-17. ECU scored six unanswered and used a 15-5 run to go up by 10, 32-22, capped by a finger roll from Corvonn Gaines. Sampson scored six points during the spurt, which propelled ECU to a 33-26 halftime lead.
He finished with nine points, nine rebounds and three assists.
"Robert Sampson was terrific," Lebo said. "His defense, doing what we ask him to do out there and his effort plays are just off the chain. We see how much better he's getting; he's rebounding the ball in traffic with two hands above his head and he's coming down with big rebounds. I'm really proud of his play."
The Pirates kept the Cobras at arm's length for most of the second half, never allowing them to get closer than five points. ECU led by double figures for 10:46 after halftime, including the final four minutes.
ECU shot 50 percent (14-of-28) from the floor in the first half and finished shooting 47.2 percent for the game (25-of-53). The Pirate defense limited Coker to just 33.9 percent shooting, including 29.4 percent in the second half, forcing 21 turnovers and scoring 18 points off those miscues.
Julian Nelson led Coker with 14 points on 6-of-12 shooting, while Austin Harper added 10 points. Nelson and Sharod Williams had eight rebounds apiece.
The Pirates return to action Tuesday, Nov. 22 against Appalachian State at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.