Second Half Rally Falls Short Again
Dec. 6, 2011
Greenville, N.C. - East Carolina fell behind by 22 points in the first half of Tuesday night's game against Massachusetts and a near comeback in the second frame came up just short as the Minutemen knocked off the Pirates 63-58 inside Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum.
UMass raced out to an 11-4 lead behind five points from sophomore forward Raphiael Putney. East Carolina (4-4) struggled to establish a rhythm early on the offensive end and the Minutemen (7-3) took advantage as they quickly pushed the lead to double-digits.
The Minutemen claimed a 21-11 lead with 11:58 remaining in the first half as Freddie Riley came off the bench to hit two 3-point field goals during the run. Riley led an impressive offensive performance in the opening frame for UMass, finishing the first half with four 3-pointers and 14 points. The Minutemen extended their first half lead to as many as 22 points before ECU trimmed the deficit at intermission to 40-21.
UMass shot an impressive 53.8 percent in the first half including a blistering 5-for-11 mark from deep. The Pirates struggled from the field, connecting on just eight first half field goals with no player making more than one shot from the floor. The Minutemen held a 23-14 edge on the glass at the break and forced nine ECU turnovers.
The Pirates crawled back into the game at the beginning of the second half as junior Miguel Paul and senior Darius Morrow led ECU on a 13-2 run to get within eight, 42-34. Junior Maurice Kemp made a baby-hook shot inside the paint to cut the UMass lead to 10, 44-34, less than five minutes into the second stanza. Paul followed with a steal of the UMass in-bounds pass and lobbed to Kemp who reached back and acrobatically finished the alley-oop, trimming the 19-point halftime deficit to eight with 14:59 left in the game. Back-to-back jumpers from junior Shamarr Bowden pulled ECU within 49-43 with 11:20 left in the contest.
UMass answered the Pirates' spurt with four quick points, a pair of free throws from Javorn Farrell and a Chaz Williams driving layup. Morrow and Paris Roberts-Campbell each hit one of two from the charity stripe, cutting the lead back down to eight with just over eight minutes left in the game.
The Pirates got within four points at 57-53 with 1:58 remaining after Paul stole a UMass in-bounds pass and drilled a 3-pointer over an outstretched defender's arm. UMass forward Cady Lalanne hit a pair of free throws on the following possession, pushing the lead back to six.
On the ensuing possession, Paul missed a pair from the charity stripe but Robert Sampson kept the ball alive twice and found Roberts-Campbell for a 3-pointer which cut the UMass lead to 59-56 with 1:24 left. After forcing a shot-clock violation on the Minutemen, ECU pulled within one, 59-58, on a driving layup by Paul.
The Minutemen moved their lead to 60-58 following a Putney free throw. He missed the second, but Carter grabbed the offensive rebound and followed by making 1-of-2 from the line, giving UMass a three-point edge.
Paul had the ball stolen on ECU's next possession and Putney hit a free throw for the Minutemen to extend their advantage to four and end the Pirates' comeback bid. UMass was able to claim the victory despite behind held to a season-low 23 points in the second half.
Riley led all scorers with 14 points, all which were scored in the first half. Williams chipped in 10 for the Minutemen.
After being held scoreless against Charlotte on Saturday, Morrow bounced back with a team-high 13 points. The senior also added seven rebounds, but fouled out late in the game after being called for a charging foul. Kemp helped spark the second-half rally and finished with 12 points, four rebounds, and two steals. Bowden and Paul also finished in double-figures for ECU as each added 10 points. Erin Straughn hauled in a season-high 10 boards in the loss.
The Pirates struggled from the foul line, knocking down just 9-of-23 attempts, a 39.1 percent clip. ECU, who outscored the Minutemen 37-23 in the final 20 minutes, forced 24 turnovers and committed 16.
East Carolina will return to action, Dec. 16 they travel To Greensboro to take on UNC Greensboro at the Greensboro Coliseum. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.