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East Carolina rides second-half run to 103-94 win over VMI

The East Carolina Pirates used a 19-4 run early in the second half to pull away and held off a rally attempt by the VMI Keydets to prevail, 103-94, in non-conference basketball action Thursday in Greenville, N.C. The contest saw 11 total players score in double figures, with ECU (10-2) putting six players in double figures and VMI (6-5) posting five-such scorers.

vmi_logoAfter a tightly contested first half, the Keydets closed to within three, 51-48, after a Brian Brown three-point play just moments into the second period. The Pirates’ Michael Zangari scored at the other end, however, and that started a 19-4 run for the home team. Akeem Richmond capped the spurt with a layup with 13:55 to go, putting the Pirates up 70-52.

VMI got the lead down to single digits in the closing minutes, but could get no closer than eight and lost the first meeting between the teams since 1977. The story of the night came from the charity stripe, where East Carolina hit 35 of a startling 44 free throw attempts (79.5%). 28 of those 44 tries came in the second half, where the home team outscored VMI 54-49. Meanwhile, the Keydets were 15 of 16 overall (93.8%), but just had just seven attempts in the second half.

For the second straight game, Rodney Glasgow led the way for the Keydets, notching 22 points on 6 of 12 shooting. D.J. Covington chipped in 16 markers, but was limited to just 21 minutes due to foul trouble, while the Pirates’ Caleb White led all scorers with 24 points.

ECU started the game by scoring the first five points, but the VMI offense responded with a 12-0 run and led, 12-5 with 4:10 having gone by in the contest. The Pirates scored the next field goal to cut the lead to three, and from there, neither team could take a lead larger than three until the 7:12 mark, when ECU’s Prince Williams scored to make it 33-28, Pirates.

That margin stretched to eight, but the Keydets used a 6-0 run late in the half to cut their halftime deficit to four, 49-45.

The teams traded points to start the second period, with Brown’s three-point play reducing the deficit to three and setting the stage for the game-breaking 19-4 ECU run that included 12 straight points . That gave the home team an 18-point advantage, and the lead was still 15 with 4:24 left.

VMI then launched a final rally attempt by scoring nine of the next 12 points, reducing the lead to nine on two occasions, the last of which came with 1:14 to go and made the score 98-89. White then hit two free throws for ECU, and Jordan Weethee drilled a triple to cut it to eight, 100-92, but the Pirates hit three of their four free throws in the final 40 seconds to seal the victory.

With the exception of free throws, Thursday’s statistics were virtually even, as ECU shot 55.6% from the floor, but VMI’s 52.3% effort included 11 additional tries. The contest was the first time the Keydets had lost while shooting over 50% from the floor since Feb. 2, 2012 against UNC Asheville.

On Thursday, both teams both notched 44 points in the paint, while the Pirates held just a one point lead in points off turnovers, 14-13. In addition to Glasgow and Covington, Weethee had 15 points and QJ Peterson chipped in 14 and six assists.

VMI will return to action December 30, taking on the Clemson Tigers in Clemson, S.C. Tip time is set for 7 p.m. and the contest will be available on ESPN3.

VMI head coach Duggar Baucom: “I’m proud of the guys. They competed and I thought we played really hard. We had one slump early in the second half when we couldn’t throw it in the ocean and it went from a four-point game to 12. It’s hard to overcome a 28 free throw disparity.”

“All in all I thought we competed, played hard, and got loose balls. Rodney (Glasgow) was great for the third game in a row. If we go 11 of 26 in three-point shooting against teams in our league, we’ll be in good shape. It just wasn’t meant to be tonight. I wish we had guarded a little bit better and gotten a couple more threes, but I was pleased with the guys on how they prepared for the game, how they handled themselves, I was proud of them in that regard. We’ll look at the tape and there were mistakes, but I thought our effort far outweighed our mistakes tonight.”

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