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January 18, 2014

FIU Outduels ECU 68-64

MIAMI - East Carolina's basketball slide continued with a 68-64 loss to Florida International Saturday night in U.S. Century Bank Arena behind 18 points each from Tymell Murphy and Rakeem Buckles.

Paris Roberts-Campbell led the Pirates in scoring with 15 points and 7 assists before fouling out. Michael Zangari contributed with 14, Caleb White scored 11 and Antonio Robinson scored 10 before the Pțirates wore down late without the use of Brandon Stith for most of the game who went out with a possible concussion.

"We made enough plays to win the game but we made some untimely turnovers at crucial times that cost us," said ECU head coach Jeff Lebo, "We battled hard but we do the same thing the last 5-6 minutes of the game we had nothing left and there was nobody on the bench to go to. We battled fatigue at the end, our guys battled hard. I thought my first year at Auburn was my hardest, but this no doubt is the hardest."

The Pirates jumped out to an early 14-6 lead on two dribble drives from Antonio Robinson and Caleb White in the fast break before Florida International(10-9) went on a 20-6 run midway through the first half on a Dominique Williams floater to tie the contest at 20-20.

East Carolina(11-7) reclaimed a 28-21 lead on a pair of trips to the charity stripe by Paris Roberts-Campbell before a Marco Porcher-Jimenez trey tightened the game up to a 28-27 at the 3:50 mark in the first half. Rakeem Buckles then downed his first basket of the game for FIU and then canned a free throw on the next possession to give the Panthers a brief 30-28 lead.

Paris Roberts-Campbell finally got his first bucket of the game as the Pirates reclaimed the lead with 1:51 to go in a back and forth first period. His subsequent drive and basket extended the ECU lead to 34-31 late in the period before Prince Williams canned his first trey of the year at the buzzer to give the Pirates a 37-33 lead at halftime.

Tymell Murphy had 9 points at intermission while Paris Roberts-Campbell led all scorers with 10 halftime points. The two teams combined for 24 fouls in the first twenty minutes, but the Pirates hit 50 percent of their first half shots including 4 of 7 from the arc to just 4 of 10 for the Panthers and 8 of 19 from the floor overall.

The Pirates took a quick five point 40-35 lead on an Akeem Richmond three-point jumper before Murphy and Buckles scored twice apiece for Florida International to reclaim a 41-40 lead. Antonio Robinson scored on a drive to the basket to tie the game at 53 with eleven minutes to play.

Murphy capitalized on a lay up for the Panthers and then scored again on the next possession where he was fouled and hit the foul shot for a three point play. Murphy then scored a third time on a dribble and Buckles scored as FIU took a 62-57 lead with just under seven minutes in the game.

Caleb scored on a jumper and scored again off an Akeem Richmond steal as the Pirates crawled back late in the contest.

Down by two points with less than three minutes to play the Pirates got a big defensive stop on a shot-clock violation by FIU, but they were unable to capitalize and Murphy converted the miss into a lay-in on the other end as FIU took a four point 66-62 lead into the last minute of the game.

Mike Zangari canned a pair of free throws with 33 seconds in the game to cut the lead to 66-64. Mavin was fouled on the other end where he missed it and Zangari was fouled on the rebound, but then missed the front end of the one and one.

Paris Roberts-Campbell quickly fouled out to stop the clock. Buckles missed the free throw but Akeem Richmond missed from three-point range to end the ECU threat and when Buckles was fouled again, he hit both free throws to make it a two possession lead with seven seconds in the game.

ECU hit 22 of 49 shots from the floor and 6 of 19 from the arc. The Pirates connected on 14-24 from the foul line. FIU went 24 for 46 from the floor despite 4 for 14 shooting from three-point range and 16 of 26 from the charity stripe in the victory.

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