After shooting 31.1 percent in the season opener, East Carolina (2-0) shot 56.6 percent from the field. Caleb White and Michel Nzege led the way for the Pirates, with Nzege scoring a career high 21 points. The offensive output helped ECU to an 88-74 victory and collect head coach Jeff Lebo’s 300th victory.
At the end of the first half the Pirates only had a six point lead, but two second half run put the game away. Tied up at 51 with 14:14 left to go in the game, ECU went on a 14-2 and had a 12 point lead. Charlotte came cut the lead to eight with 6:12 on the clock, but a 10-2 run gave the Pirates a commanding lead.
Scoring 21 in the first game of the season, White followed that performance with a 20 point game. White continued to get to the free throw line converting on six of eight attempts. His offensive efficiency, shooting six for seven from the field, stood out but he also collected five rebounds and dished out five assists. Even with 41 points in the two games, Lebo thinks the forward can do more.
“I just think Caleb can bring so much more,” said Lebo. “He doesn’t know how good he can be. He doesn’t know he’s very athletic, he doesn’t show it all the time. He’s very fast, he doesn’t show it all the time. We’re trying to get more out of him. He’s driving the ball a little better for us now. Playing more physical. Trying to be able to teach him to affect/effect the game in other areas than just shooting the basketball. He’s been solid for us and he is very efficient.”
Nzege also had an efficient game offensively hitting nine of his 11 shots from the field. The forward started the game draining his first six shots. Fellow forward Clarence Williams also provided a spark for the Pirates with 11 total rebounds and stole the ball three times.
“Things went very well,” said Nzege. “Our guards and wings, Caleb and Prince, are very aggressive and the defense is really concerned about them. So they kind of forget the bigs down low, so they give us a chance to score the ball. Once we become more aggressive, the defense kind of tightened on us and it gives them a chance to score the ball as well on the outside. So it’s a good balance for us right now.
Charlotte did not have any troubles offensively either, shooting 44.4 percent from the field. Its leading scorer Adrien White hit four 3-pointers and finished with 21 points. But it was guard Braxton Ogbueze that consistently made shots beyond the arc, shooting five for nine beyond the arc.
After the game against Grambling State, Lebo wanted to improve its play from the point guard position. Prince Williams got the start at point guard and became the third double digit scorer for the Pirates. Williams 15 point and six for seven night from the field provided ECU with production from the point guard position, but Lance Tejada also played well for the Pirates.
“Prince Williams, that was probably his best game since his sophomore year,” said Lebo “15 points and what I’m more proud of is that he and Lance, no turnovers there at the point guard position for an entire game. I thought Prince was efficient. Six for seven, they’re the kind of numbers that we need.”
Despite its improved offensive performance, the Pirates were still without the scoring it is used to from BJ Tyson. Tyson missed his first five field goal opportunities and his first 14 shots of the season. He finally hit a layup with four minutes left in the second half. Tyson finished the game with eight points.