Cards Collapse!

East Carolina's first Conference-USA win probably couldn't have been scripted any better. Facing a team that sports the conference's flashiest coach, most prolific tradition, and arguably the most obnoxious fan base, the Pirates pounded the Cardinals 87-77 in front of a home crowd of 7,432.

East Carolina (7-9, 1-3) exploited Louisville's post defense, consistently forcing the ball into the paint, drawing fouls and free throws. In the second half, ECU shot 28 free throws to only 4 for Louisville (11-4, 2-2). A 31.3 percent performance from two-point range only doomed the Cards' efforts further. They scored just one field goal from the 12:31 mark until 5:23 remained as a two-point deficit grew to nine. From that point they never got closer than five. Louisville's only salvation was a strong behind the arc performance. The Cards made 10 of 22 attempts from 3-point range for a 45.5 percent average.

Leading the scoring charge for ECU, surprisingly enough, was point guard Travis Holcomb-Faye. On the same night his younger brother's Winston-Salem Reynolds team was being pounded by powerful Oak Hill Academy, big brother Travis poured in 20 points and added 9 assists for the Pirates.

Senior Brandon Hawkins came off the bench and scored 18 points. Hawkins, made four of four from 3-point range. Sophomore Gabriel Mikulas added 14 points (mostly down low) and 8 boards. 6-10 freshman center Moussa Badiane continued his dominating ways in the paint, swatting away 6 Cardinal shots. For the game, ECU shot 50 percent from the floor and 64.6 percent from the free throw line.

After the game, ECU head coach Bill Herrion gave the Minges crowd its props. Said Herrion, ''The home-court atmosphere that we have right now, I don't know if anybody else has it in this league. Our fans helped us win this game tonight.''

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