PirateIllustrated - SMU Torches East Carolina 75-44
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SMU Torches East Carolina 75-44

SMU's Sterling Brown shoots over ECU's Elijah Hughes and Andre Washington in a 75-44 win.
SMU's Sterling Brown shoots over ECU's Elijah Hughes and Andre Washington in a 75-44 win. (PirateIllustrated.com photo)

SMU had little difficulty dispatching cold shooting East Carolina 75-44 Saturday afternoon in Minges Coliseum to close out the calendar year for both ball clubs. Ben Moore led five Mustangs in double-figure scoring with 18 points and 11 rebounds.

Shake Melton tossed in 14, Sterling Brown scored 13. Duke transfer Semi Ojeleye and Jarry Foster both added 12 for the Mustangs who move to 12-3 overall and 2-0 in the AAC with the victory. Kentrell Barkley led the Pirates with 13 points and Elijah Hughes had 10 as the only ECU players in double-figures.

The Pirates hit just 18 of 51 shots overall and went 5 of 15 from the charity stripe to go along with 3 of 20 shooting from the arc to fall to 9-6 on the year and 1-1 in AAC play. SMU connected on 25 of 60 from the floor for 41.7 percent, but they were deadly from the free throw line hitting 19 of 20 to go along with 6 of 13 from the arc in the victory.

The Mustangs out rebounded the Pirates 52 to 24 and that led to 27 second chance points in the paint for SMU.

“It’s something we’ve emphasized from summer. When you look at our team we don’t have traditional big guys really and normally you’d count on those guys to do the bulk of your rebounding,” said SMU coach Tim Jankovich, “So we looked at our team and we’re mostly a bunch of medium guys so we were going to have to be a little bit out of the box and have everybody be a little bit more aggressive. I’ve been shocked by our rebounding efforts all year, not just tonight. It’s just something we’ve emphasized and our guys have done a tremendous job.”

It wasn’t one of East Carolina’s better outings and Pirate head coach Jeff Lebo knew it wasn’t going to be easy against a quality SMU team who has already won on the road at Stanford, Memphis and Pittsburgh this season.

“That was a good basketball team and a frustrating night for us offensively in particular. Our shooting was numbers were abysmal and their ability to rebound - they just do stuff so easily, they return three starters off a team that I thought was a top ten team. Add a Duke transfer in there. Their ability to grab loose balls, tipped balls and come down with 50/50 balls and defensively, they really packed it in on us and we were very hesitant offensively shooting the ball and it was contagious.”

Caleb White went 2 for 8 from the floor including 0 for 5 from the arc in just 23 minutes of play Saturday afternoon and that spelled doom for the Pirates who rely heavily on White to hit shots from three-point range.

“We lost Caleb (White) in the first minute or two minutes with two fouls and that took him out of the game and he’s our only real perimeter shooter, so it was a rough night for us offensively."

Three early Ben Moore baskets allowed SMU take a 17-12 lead in the first six minutes of the game. ECU cut the Mustang lead to three before Jarrey Foster’s three pointer and a Ben Moore follow dunk put SMU up by eight with 2:12 to play in the first half.

Two questionable foul calls before halftime led to a technical foul on the ECU bench. Shake Milton converted that into a pair of made free throws and the Mustangs took a 34-24 lead into the locker room at halftime.

Ben Moore had 14 points and eight boards for SMU who had 19 second chance points. ECU’s Kentrell Barkley led the Pirates with 11 points in the first half.

Two Ben Moore dunks and a three-pointer from Jarrey Foster keyed an SMU run five minutes into the second half that gave the Mustangs a 14-point 43-29 lead. Then a Sterling Moore basket coupled with two Shake Milton jumpers compounded problem for ECU in a 50-31 game with twelve minutes to go.

Things didn’t get any better for East Carolina when Ben Emelogu launched in a pair of three-point bombs to stretch the Mustang lead to 23 at 56-33. Sterling Moore scored on three more occasions and then a Jarray Foster dunk made it 69-40 with 3:22 remaining. Shake Melton and Sterling Brown added to the damage late in the contest in a 31-point win.

Both teams took pretty good care of the basketball with just eight turnovers each in the contest.