GREENVILLE, N.C. - ECU got another solid game out of Maurice Kemp who scored 23 points, pulled down five rebounds and had two blocked shots in a 74-61 victory over UAB in Minges Coliseum Wednesday night.
Kemp, who scored 10 of his 23 in the first half, led four Pirates in double-figures including Akeem Richmond who connected on 4 of 6 from the field including 3 for 4 from the arc for 15 points. Ty Armstrong had 12 and Miguel Paul scored 11 points to go along with 11 assists in the contest.
Rod Rucker scored the first six points of the game for the Blazers before cooling off for a while. Rucker got it going late for UAB(11-14/3-7) and ended up with 14 points to lead the Blazers in scoring to go along with 8 rebounds. Fahrio Alihodzic added 11 and Robert Williams and Jordan Swing had 9 each in a losing cause.
The Pirates were playing without the services of Corvonn Gaines who suffered a shoulder injury in practice and will be out for a minimum of three weeks in the best case scenario according to Pirate head coach Jeff Lebo.
ECU(14-9/5-5) opened up as much as a 17 point lead in the second half after taking a 38-34 lead into the locker room.
It was 52-45, Pirates, adter a Richmond trey at the 11:48 mark in the second half. Paul scored twice and Kemp hit two free throws and Ty Armstrong slammed home a dunk for a 61-45 lead with 9 minutes to go.
Rucker, Williams, Alihodzic, Purifoy and Swing all scored for UAB to cut the lead to 64-57 inside of five minutes to play.
But a Ty Armstrong bucket along with six free throws from Paul and Kemp did the trick down the stretch for the Pirates who got their 14th win of the season.
Pirate head coach Jeff Lebo was pleased with the victory and talked about it after the game.
"I thought we came out with a lot of energy, the mindset was good for the whole game. I thought we did a good job of executing our game plan to take away the three point shot away," said Lebo, We gave away too many layups but I thought we did a good job and had a lot fewer turnovers than we had in Birmingham. It was a good win and it gets us back to .500 (in C-USA)."
ECU hit 52 percent from the floor, including 6 for 15 from three-point range while holding UAB to 42.6 percent and just 2 of 16 from the arc. Rebounds were basically even at 32 to 31 UAB. ECU got to the line 24 times to just 10 for UAB and the Pirates connected on 18 of 24 from the charity stripe for 75 percent.
Lebo denoted Richmond's shooting Wednesday evening saying that, "he really shot it good. He took one that was really deep but he's a shooter and I'm sure I took a few from way out too back in the day. He also put a big emphasis on defense and that's what he's got to do. I liked our toughness on defense for longer periods of time."
Jeff Charles returned to his traditional spot along press row to call the action for the IMG Pirate Sports Network for the first time since taking a leave of absence for cancer treatment.
The players ran over to press row to shake Charles' hand in the player introductions during the pregame.
"It was awesome to have him back," said Lebo, "It's good for all of us."
Catch Chanellos Pizza PI-TV Postgame with postgame comments from both coaches as well as Miguel Paul and Akeem Richmond from ECU.