basketball Edit

Frustrating Stretch Continues in an 85-75 Loss to Coppin State

ECU center Charles Coleman drives past Coppin State's Kamar McKnight in Tuesday night's game in Greenville.
ECU center Charles Coleman drives past Coppin State's Kamar McKnight in Tuesday night's game in Greenville. ( photo)

Another tough shooting night for ECU led to defensive issues at the other end of the court in an 85-75 loss to visiting Coppin State Tuesday evening in Minges Coliseum.

Koby Thomas led five Eagles in double figures with 19 points and a team high eight rebounds. He got an abundance of help from Kamar McKnight with 16, Andrew and Aaron Robinson scored 14 and 11 points respectively and Ibn Williams tossed in 12 points for good measure.

Coppin State made nearly 51 percent from the floor and 13 of 16 from the stripe. They also managed to hit 34.5 percent from the arc while ECU made just 37.5 percent of their shots overall and just 7 for 30 from the arc.

Going 14 of 23 from the foul line did not make life any easier. With the Pirates' fourth straight loss and fifth out of the last six games, ECU fell to 2-7 on the season while Coppin State improved to 4-6.

“Obviously I’m very disappointed. I thought Coppin was the aggressor with forty points in the paint, kept us on our heels and I’m very disappointed in the way we responded,” ECU head coach Joe Dooley said afterwards, “I don’t think they believe that they have to guard in order to win. Obviously our shooting percentages show that and we’ve got to figure it out quickly."

Dooley said that his team still has a lack of familiarity with two new guards moving into the rotation who are coming off of injuries in Tremont Robinson-White and Tyrie Jackson.

Dooley stated that a lot of the Pirates’ shooting woes are a result of a lack of overall toughness.

“You’re wide open and you turn down your next shot because you missed your last one. That’s not being tough. We turned down four open threes in the first half and drove them into bad shots,” Dooley told, “If you’ve got a good shot, you’ve got to have confidence.”

"When there is no experienced leadership to show what it’s supposed to look like, you’ve got all of these guys who are all new and they’re saying what are we supposed to do and they don’t know. You try to explain it and until they learn some hard lessons I don’t think people listen and I think we’re learning some hard lessons."

“We’re disjointed on both ends of the floor. We’ve got guys back, but they haven’t practiced enough. We have minute limits on some of these guys, so you try to prioritize what they’re going to do. This month of practice is going to be vital for us moving forward.”

Jayden Gardner did heat up late to score a game high 22 points and eight rebounds after scoring just six in the first half. Tyrie Jackson generated 12 points and 7 boards and both Tremont Robinson-White and Brandon Suggs tossed in ten points apiece to go along with eight points from seven-footer Charles Coleman who had five boards in twenty minutes of play.

Gardner was clearly irritated in the postgame with the way his team played Tuesday night on both ends of the floor in an outing that was probably the low point in the season thus far.

“It’s super frustrating. You’ve got to be able to execute out there and we’ve got to figure this thing out soon,” said Gardner, "It sucks to lose and this probably hit home the worst. We’ve got to come back regroup, get tough and get better in practice.”

When a team isn’t making shots, it makes it double tough to get stops on defense.

“We sucked man, we sucked on defense and that’s another thing we’ve got to figure out down the stretch,” said Gardner, "We’ve got to be able to guard people. We’ve got to be able to stay in front of our man and finish the possession with rebounds.”

Junior transfer guard Tyrie Jackson is doing some good things, but all of the changes with the lineup has the team in a bit of disarray until they can eventually settle into a meaningful rotation.

“It’s totally frustrating. Coming back from an injury, expectation was high, but it’s frustrating to go on this losing streak. It’s all about how we respond to adversity and bring each other as one and move forward. It’s all about the little things,” said Jackson.

"We’ve got to stay focused and lock in. It’s just a new feel for us and the coaches and we’re just trying to figure out everything - the rotations, everything," Gardner said, "Guy’s roles are changing every game. The good thing is we’ve got 23 games left and we can get hot and figure some things out down the stretch."

The Pirates found themselves in an early see-saw battle in a 28-28 contest with 6:18 to go in the first half. Aaron Robinson had already scored nine of his 11 first half leading points for Coppin State while three ECU players had six points or more led by Jackson’s seven points.

Coppin State took an eight point 39-31 advantage into the locker room at halftime.

The Eagles hit nearly 52 percent from the floor in the first twenty minutes to just 36 percent for ECU. The Pirates got to the foul line just once and made just 4-16 shots from the arc.

Seven minutes into the second half, the Coppin State lead grew to 14 at 53-39 as the Pirates continued to have difficulty making shots.

ECU did manage to cut the lead to single digits with nine minutes to go on a Jayden Gardner jumper, but it seemed like every time the Pirates had a chance to get any closer, the rim had a lid on it.

The Pirates will look to regroup with an eleven day stretch without another game until December 14 when ECU returns to action to host Campbell at 4 o’clock in Minges Coliseum on ESPN3.