Pirates Knock Out Lynchburg in Bounceback Win
If Thursday night’s game at Minges Coliseum was a prize fight, the referees would have called it off early on. Similar to a good boxer, the Pirates were balanced with their punches against non-Division I opponent Virginia-Lynchburg — outscoring the Dragons 60-20 in the paint and shooting 42 percent in the first half from 3-point range — on their way to a 92-51 victory. All 14 Pirates appeared in Thursday’s win with shooting guard Terry Whisnant supplying 16 points on 5 for 8 shooting to lead the team’s five double-figure scorers. Sophomore forward Michel Nzege posted his second double-double in three games with 12 points and 13 rebounds. “It was nice to get everybody in the game in this type of game,” said fifth-year coach Jeff Lebo. “I thought we did some good things. We finally out-rebounded somebody (59-20). That was nice to see and I thought Terry shot the ball real well.” The Pirates opened the game on a 9-0 run with Nzege scoring the first five points. Following a lay-up by freshman guard B.J. Tyson, ECU led 17-2 and never looked back. Junior forward Michael Zangari made his season debut Thursday after missing the first two games with a broken cheek bone. Wearing a protective mask, Zanagri logged five points and eight rebounds in 11 minutes. “It feels good to have another big man in the rotation,” said Nzege. “He’s going to help us a lot down the line. He didn’t show it tonight, but Mike can stretch to floor and ... it’s definitely great to see him back on the floor after an injury.” But while the Pirates got an injured big man back, they lost another. Prior to the game, sophomore Marshall Guilmette, who missed all but five games a year ago with a knee injury, was ruled out with a pulled muscle. “I don’t know how long it’s going to be,” said Lebo when asked how long he expected Guilmette to be out. “It’s going to be up to Marshall to let us know when he can go again. It’s very frustrating for him and for our team.” With the game long decided, many of the 3,966 fans in the stands noticed there was one player that had not checked in yet with less than 90 seconds remaining: walk-on Peyton Robbins. Moments later, chants of, “We want Peyton,” rained down and Lebo gave the fans what they wanted. Robbins didn’t disappoint either. On the Pirates’ final possession of the game, Robbins pump faked at the rim — causing two Dragons to go up for the block, missing — which allowed him a layup with 15 seconds left for his first career field goal. Loud cheers followed and the ECU bench exploded in celebration. “Nobody sees what Peyton does behind closed doors at practice, but Peyton really is a true leader. That means a lot of us to see him go in there and get on the floor for his first time since we started the season,” Tyson said. “If you go back and look at the video, you’ll see on the bench that they got crunk.” The Pirates will return to action Monday afternoon against Green Bay in the Gulf Coast Showcase in Estero, Fla. Tip-off time is set for noon.
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