Wednesday, January 26, 2022

East Carolina improves to 2-0 under first-year coach Jeff Lebo

Playing without veteran point guard Brock Young and starting center Chad Wynn, East Carolina broke open a close game after halftime and cruised to a relatively easy 76-63 win over Campbell on Monday evening at Williams Arena-Minges Coliseum.

Campbell (0-2), which had lost 70-60 at No. 22 Virginia Tech in its season opener on Friday night, defeated the Pirates last year in Buies Creek and held an early 8-5 advantage with 13:25 remaining in the first half.

However, East Carolina’s new regime has the Pirates playing with much better effort and its evident in the product that is being put on the floor. They overcame that deficit to build a narrow 29-25 lead at halftime before extending its lead to as many as 17 at 60-43 with 6:23 remaining. ECU’s advantage was nine points or more for most of the second half.

The area that the most improvement has been seen is on the defensive end. The Pirates are allowing just 54.5 points through two games. Campbell concluded the night with 18 turnovers and just 3-of-12 from deep.

“I thought defensively–especially the first 30 minutes of the game–we were really active,” said Lebo. “I was pleased.”

Senior guard Jontae Sherrod scored a career-high 21 points and was the game’s high-scorer.

The Pirates continue to show improved movement on offense and tallied assists on 16 of their 24 baskets. They shot 49 percent (24-49) for the game and knocked down an impressive 11 three-pointers. ECU didn’t make ten or more trifectas in a game all last season.

Erin Straughn and Corvonn Gaines also reached double figures. Straughn scored 12 points for a second straight game while also pulling down six rebounds.

Jamar Abrams, Darrius Morrow, Darius Morales and Wakefield Ellison were all a basket from reaching double figures. Abrams knocked down three from long-range and finished with nine. Morrow and Morales had eight each while Ellison concluded his night with seven in just 11 minutes.

Freshman Rob Sampson didn’t score in nine minutes of action, but did pull down three rebounds and block three shots.

Eric Griffin had 15 points to lead the Camels.

East Carolina will return to action on Thursday night when it meets in-state rival NC State in the opening round of the Charleston Classic. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. in the Carolina First Center in Charleston, SC.

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