Pirates Cruise Past Central Connecticut State

GREENVILLE, N.C. -- On the backs of its newcomers, East Carolina (4-3) cruised past Central Connecticut State Sunday in Minges.

East Carolina, offensively powered by Michel Nzege and Lance Tejada, coasted to a 74-59 win over Connecticut Central State. Nzege scored 18 points while shooting a perfect 9-for-9 from the field. Freshmen Tejada and B.J. Tyson each added another 14 off the bench.

The Pirates (4-3) received offensive production from players other than the usual suspects. The trio of Caleb White, Terry Whisnant and B.J. Tyson accounted for nearly 60 percent of ECU’s offense heading into Sunday’s game. This time, though, they only combined for 28 of ECU’s 74 points.

“We don’t think about it. It kind of just comes to us,” said Tejada. “I feel like we’re all capable of scoring. It’s just about some days, some players are going to play better than others. It’s about just spreading the ball around.”

Tyson made a significant impact off the bench, too. He followed up his 24-point effort against Hawaii with 14 points. He also led the team with six rebounds and tied Antonio Robinson for the team high with four assists.

Tejada’s performance off the bench was arguably the brightest spot of ECU’s offense. The team had been seeking consistency from his shooting. He only made two of his 20 shot attempts during the Gulf Coast Showcase and was 3-for-18 from three-point range on the season.

He turned things around Sunday after going 5-for-10 from the field, including sinking four of six three pointers.

“It felt good to see Lance make some shots,” said head coach Jeff Lebo. “He’s really worked hard at it. He’s been frustrated that the ball wasn’t going in. He’s a young player. Hopefully, he’ll come out of that and be consistent for us.”

Tejada helped the Pirates pull away from what had been a close game through the first 10 minutes. He hit a three to tie the game at 27-27 with 9:40 left in the first. ECU would score another 11 unanswered points—six of which came from Tejada at long range.

ECU took a 12-point, 44-32 lead into the locker room at halftime and didn’t look back. Khalen Cumberlander and Brandon Peel, who combined for 37 points, helped CCSU’s comeback efforts, but the Pirates led by double digits throughout the remainder of the contest.

The Pirates’ defense is still lacking, especially in the interior. The Blue Devils scored 30 of their 59 points in the paint and were able to grab 11 offensive boards.

“We’ve got to get better (on defense),” said Lebo. “We played a lot of man-to man. We haven’t played much man so we had two days to prepare for the man…I’ve typically been a guy that mixes (defenses). When you mix a lot, it’s hard to get good at one, so you kind of get okay at a lot of them.”

ECU’s next outing will be its first true away game of the season. The Pirates will play at Florida Atlantic, where they lost 78-67 last season.


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