Pirates Drop Nail-biter at North Texas

East Carolina (13-13, 2-9 C-USA) staged a late comeback, but ended up losing 53-51 at North Texas (12-13, 3-8).

East Carolina (13-13, 2-9 Conference-USA) dropped a 53-51 decision to North Texas (12-13, 3-6 C-USA). This was the first meeting between the two teams in 30 years.

ECU made a strong comeback effort in the second half but was unable to regain the lead. Caleb White led the Pirates with 17 points and seven boards.

Saturday's contest was a low scoring affair considering the two teams involved. Both teams' scoring offenses average well over 70 points a game and are accustomed to giving up 70 points, yet they barely managed to scratch the 50-point mark.

ECU's defense was on point. For a team lacking in size and known for underwhelming defense in the paint, the Pirates only let up 20 points down low. They also kept up and scored 20 points in the Mean Green paint. Michael Zangari also had an impressive showing inside with 10 defensive rebounds.

Brandan Stith, one of ECU's most valuable assets when it comes to swiping the glass, only notched a single rebound.

The inconsistency in ECU's shooting game is what cost them the win in this close game. The Pirates shot 47.8 percent in the first half but didn't get the kind of lead one would imagine that kind of shooting would yield. Then they came out in the second and only made nine of 29 shots from the field.

North Texas' offensive performance was driven heavily by its bench players. Vertrail Vaughns led the team with 13 points off the bench. The Mean Green's bench combined for 26 of the 53 points they scored.

The Pirates stayed competitive throughout much of the first half and even led most of the first eight minutes before North Texas took over the game. Even after the Pirates gave up their lead, they still kept it a two-possession game.

Come the second half, ECU managed to tie the game once, but couldn't get much done beyond that. Brandan Walton's three extended North Texas' lead to 50-38, which was its largest of the night. With 9:21 to play, the Pirates embarked on a 14-3 run that saw them come within one basket of winning the game.

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