GREENVILLE, N.C. - Maurice Kemp scored a game high 30 points to go along with nine rebounds as East Carolina won their second straight Conference USA game in come from behind fashion, 89-78 in Minges Coliseum Wednesday night.
Kemp had 15 of those points in the first half despite going down by six at halftime, 36-30.
ECU went 0-9 in the first half before getting hot from the arc, hitting 8 of 15 in the second half as the Pirates played 3 for 2 against the taller, more physical Cougars.
Houston(12-4/1-2) got 22 points from Daniel House who had his way both inside and out as did TaShawn Thomas who had 18 points and 8 boards. Leon Gibson tossed in 14 points to go along with 9 rebounds.
This Pirate team has a tendacy to fall behind in the first half but they came alive for the second straight game, going on a 29-9 run down the stretch to pick up their 11th win of the season.
Kemp got plenty of help from Miguel Paul who scored 16 points and dished out eight assists. Akeem Richmond came off the bench to provide the spark from the arc with 14 second half points including four treys.
It was a slug fest in the lane as both teams scored 38 points in the paint, but ECU got 19 points off of 13 Houston turnovers while only relinquishing the basketball five times for the evening on turnovers.
"We had our best lineup on defense in the game down the stretch but the problem is, that isn't necessarily our best group on offense," said third year ECU head coach Jeff Lebo, "Our guys don't panic and they had confidence that we could come back. Down the stretch, our guys were really alert defensively and we got them out of their rhythm in the last five or six minutes of the game."
The Pirates got 22 points from their bench in a contest that contained ten lead changes.
A tap-in by Kemp and a Richmond trey put ECU up by two with 5:35 to go. Robert Sampson's three point play along with treys from Richmond and Kemp put ECU up by four. Sampson, Bowden and Paul scored in the final two minutes to seal the victory.
Houston hit just over half of their 57 shots while ECU had fifteen more shot attempts in connecting on 43 percent from the floor. The Pirates hit 8 of 24 from three-point range.