East Carolina will trek across state and make their first-ever visit to Boiling Springs, N.C., where they will take on the Bulldogs of Gardner-Webb University Tuesday night at 7 p.m., winding down a busy week of basketball. ECU will be playing its fourth game in seven days when it tips off against Gardner-Webb Tuesday night.
The Pirates won the only previous meeting between the two teams last season in Greenville, 76-59. ECU senior center Moussa Badiane scored 17 points and blocked three shots in the contest, while sophomore Japhet McNeil added eight points and recorded a trio of steals. GWU junior Brian Bender was the Bulldogs' top dog with 17 points.
East Carolina is coming off an impressive runner-up finish at the 2004 BCA Invitational. After routing Pepperdine by 22 in the opening round, the Pirates rallied from an early 13-point deficit and held off a late charge by Oregon State to advance to the championships, 64-62. In the title game against No. 19 NC State, fatigue and a determined Wolfpack club caught up with the battle weary Pirates. Despite showing a lot of heart, East Carolina was unable to overcome a flawless performance by the Wolfpack and fell, 66-100.
That one-game didn't diminish the performance of Bill Herrion's young Pirates during the three-day tournament. ECU's four true freshman combined to average 19.3 points per game. Tom Hammonds and Josh King each put on spectacular shooting performances throughout the tournament, while Jonathan Hart displayed tremendous athleticism rebounding the basketball.
Sophomore Mike Cook picked up right where he left off from a year ago, scoring over 20 points in each of the first two games of the tournament. He poured in a then-career high 21 points in the opener against Pepperdine and bested it the following night with 22 versus Oregon State.
After being forced to sit out the opener against Pepperdine, Badiane returned to the floor and made his presence known immediately. scoring 13 points, grabbing five rebounds and swatting five shots.
The Bulldogs opened the season with an 85-61 win over North Greenville on Saturday.