East Carolina opens Five Game Homestand against Division II Lenoir Rhyne
Pirates are 2-0 at Williams Arena-Minges Coliseum this season
After snapping a two-game skid by securing a 75-67 victory over USC-Upstate in its final game of the Charleston Classic on Sunday, East Carolina will play the first of five straight home games on Wednesday night when it hosts Division II Lenoir-Rhyne. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.
The Pirates (3-2) were plagued by turnovers and missed free throws in their 85-65 blowout loss to NC State on Thursday. They took better care of the basketball versus Charlotte on Friday, but shot a dismal 3-of-23 from three-point range–including 0-for-12 in the second half–and lost 74-63 to the 49ers. Against USC-Upstate, senior Jontae Sherrod stepped up and knocked down 13 second half free throws to help preserve the victory over the Spartans. Sherrod isn’t shooting the ball particularly well, but leads the team with his 11.8 points per game. He is 22-of-27 from the charity stripe. Senior swingman Jamar Abrams is also scoring in double figures for East Carolina. The typically streaky Abrams is producing 10.4 points and 4.4 rebounds per contest. He has been the Pirates’ top three-point threat, as he is 12-of-28 from beyond the arc.
In the post, Darrius Morrow has led the way. Morrow is putting up nine points and just over six rebounds. However, he must improve his free throw shooting, as he is a dismal 17-of-32 (53.1%) from the line and should also be scoring in double figures. Morrow has received help from redshirt freshman Darius Morales. Morales is 12-of-16 from the floor and tallying 5.4 points. With Brock Young being hobbled by his offseason knee surgery, Corvonn Gaines has continued to play well while starting at the point. Gaines has knocked down just one three-pointer, but is 19-of-25 from the free throw line and averaging 8.8 points. He is also producing 3.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists and two steals.
Lenoir-Rhyne University (1-2) is coming to Greenville after splitting a pair of games in the South Atlantic Conference/Conference Carolinas Tip-off Classic in Hickory over the weekend. The Bears beat Limestone, 70-59, before dropping a 68-51 decision to Queens. This won’t be their first trip to Eastern North Carolina, as they suffered a 63-59 loss at Mt. Olive to start their season.
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John Lentz, who is in his 25th year leading his alma mater, must address the loss of star senior foward/center D.J. Blackmon. Blackmon, who went down with a knee injury late in the Bears’ victory over Limestone, is averaging 27.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and four blocked shots. Without their leader, LR suffered the 17-point defeat to the Royals and managed just 51 points after going 1-of-17 from long range. For the season, it is just 7-for-41 from long range.
Allan Jones, who has come off the bench in all three contests, is producing nine points and is 11-of-15 from the floor in just over 14 minutes per contest. Junior guard Jon Hathcock averages seven points despite having made just 3 of 18 field goal attempts. He is 15-of-20 from the charity stripe. The Bears’ frontcourt features 6’8″, 230-pound junior center Jeff Thomas. Thomas, who is averaging seven points and 4.3 rebounds, has started two games.
Division II Lenoir-Rhyne will be without senior star D.J. Blackmon, who accounts for about half of his club’s offensive. Without Blackmon, the Pirates should certainly not have any trouble beating the Bears. LR shoots just 17 percent from three-point range and East Carolina’s opponents have shot just 21.4 percent from beyond the arc. Expect ECU to establish control of this one early and cruise to an easy victory of 25 points or more.