01/04/10 — Wynn paces ECU against NC Central

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Wynn paces ECU against NC Central

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on January 4, 2010 1:46 PM

GREENVILLE -- East Carolina showed poise down the stretch and ushered in the new year with a victory over in-state rival North Carolina Central on Sunday afternoon.

Chad Wynn led five Pirates in double figures with 12 points and a career-high 13 rebounds in a 68-58 triumph over the Eagles inside Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum. East Carolina (6-8 overall) snapped a two-game skid heading into its Conference USA opener at No. 24-ranked UAB on Wednesday.

Darrius Morrow paced the Pirates with a team-best 17 points, while Jamar Abrams just missed a double-double with 12 points and nine rebounds. Jontae Sherrod and Brock Young provided 13 and 12 points, respectively, in the Pirates' fourth home win of the season.

"We had played two really good games in a row and failed to finish them," said Pirates head coach Mack McCarthy. "That was the theme for this game, try to finish one. It was also eerily like some of the other games we played (this season) and didn't perform really well.

"We made some mental mistakes on both ends of the floor."

East Carolina watched double-digit advantages in each half dwindle to a single possession against N.C. Central, a third-year Division I program. The Eagles (2-11) fell behind 46-35 in the second half when Abrams came up with a steal and Morrow finished off the turnover with an assist from Young.

Michael Glasker's 3-pointer closed the gap to 56-52 around the eight-minute mark of the second half. Morrow converted the back end of a two-shot foul and the Eagles connected on another field goal.

NCCU had two chances to either pull within a point or tie the game in the final four-plus minutes, but committed costly turnovers. Abrams' 3-pointer off Young's assist, the Pirates' first conversion outside the arc for the game, pushed the advantage to 60-54.

"We got control of the game in the second half and then just one possession at a time, kind of gave it away," said McCarthy. "(We) missed some shots, took a couple of ill-advised shots later on, but did the things we needed to down the stretch to win the basketball game."

Glasker's 3-pointer drew the Eagles within 62-57 with 2:16 left in regulation. Sherrod followed with a fade-away 3-pointer that barely cleared the rim to make it 65-57. Young and Abrams combined for three free throws in the final 88 seconds to seal the Pirates' first victory of 2010.

"They worked hard, came back and scrapped," said Abrams of the Eagles. "We've just got to learn how to put people away early."

Young's jump shot off the dribble created a 7-7 tie and ignited a 15-0 run by the Pirates in the opening half. The Eagles missed 11 consecutive field goals before using a 15-6 run of their own to climb within 28-24 with three minutes left before intermission.

ECU led 33-29 at the break and started the second half with an 11-6 surge before NCCU staged its second comeback of the game. All five Pirate starters played the entire second half without a break.

"It's great to get a win and we're anxiously looking forward to starting conference play," said McCarthy. "We've got a big challenge right out of the chute with UAB. They're playing at a really high level."