PirateIllustrated - ECU Falls Hard to Memphis 80-53
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ECU Falls Hard to Memphis 80-53

Short handed East Carolina did all they could do in a game that was never really close, ultimately falling hard on Sunday at home to Memphis 80-53 in Williams Arena. It was the Pirates’ third straight loss.

Moussa Cisse tossed in 14 points before fouling out late to lead Memphis to go along with 11 points each from DeAndre Williams and Boogie Ellis.

Ever improving point guard Tremont Robinson-White did put together another solid outing in leading ECU with 15 points. Brandon Suggs scored 11 while Tristen Newton and Jayden Gardner, who finally got cranked up late after an extremely slow start, added 10 points each.

“Going back to last year, I think the kind of injury Tremont had was a really hard injury and especially for players who need their speed and quickness and you have an ankle injury like that,” said Pirate lead assistant Steve Roccaforte afterward, who filled in for Joe Dooley who was out due to Covid-19 on Sunday, “I think it took him a little while to get strong and confident enough in his ankle to really be able to play. I think he’s more confident in the system and his surroundings and his ankle and he’s playing a lot better.”

ECU(7-4/1-4 AAC) entered the game with a total of six players out including Tyree Jackson, Charles Coleman, Myles James, J.J. Miles along with reserves Samson Strictland and Brendon Kelly. That was in addition to head coach Joe Dooley watching from home for the first time after testing positive for Covid-19 earlier in the week.

After a decent start, ECU seemed to cool off offensively and Memphis sensed an opportunity and took advantage of it on the offensive end of the court, crafting a working margin and putting the game largely out of reach by halftime.

The Pirates’ biggest issue was an inability to make open shots, making just six 6 of their first 27 shots. The Tigers compounded the problem, making five of their first nine three-point shots and quickly opened up a 28-12 lead.

Matters only got worse from there as the Tigers lead expanded to 35-14 on a Boogie Ellis basket with 6:32 left in the half.

“We had a really good start and I think there was a stretch after that really good start were we didn’t respond very well to their pressure,” said Pirate lead assistant Steve Roccaforte who filled in for Joe Dooley, “We also tried some zone. We thought we could mix some zone in. They hit a couple of threes and we just didn’t respond very well during that period of time.”

ECU could not buy a basket and failed to crack the twenty point mark in a 49-18 contest at the half. The Pirates looked the part of a team that had not played a game in the last fifteen days. Brandon Suggs did manage to score eight first half points to lead ECU, but Jayden Gardner did not scratch in the first twenty minutes.

Memphis(8-5/4-2 AAC) made 53 percent of their first half shots including 8 of 15 from three-point land, led by eight points each from Lester Quinones and Moussa Cisse at the break.

“In the second half, we knew we couldn’t get it all back,” said Roccaforte, “We wanted to keep our guys playing as hard as possible. We broke it into four minute segments. I think we won four out of the five segments, so we’re just trying to stay together, keep everybody healthy and get Joe Dooley back.”

Gardner finally made his first bucket of the game ninety seconds into the second half and Tre Robinson-White followed with a runner in the lane. But missed shots and turnovers continued to spell doom for ECU on Sunday and in the end, Memphis’ big early lead proved too much to overcome.

ECU returns to the court when they head to Orlando to take on UCF Wednesday afternoon at 4 p.m.