Dylan Johnson / ESPN Greenville
East Carolina University ran out of gas late in its 79-69 loss to the University of Memphis Wednesday night in Minges. ECU was led by Seth LeDay’s 15 points and 10 rebounds and Shawn Williams chipped in 14 points of his own. The loss moves the Pirates to 9-15 (2-10 AAC), while the Tigers improve to 15-10 (7-5 AAC). Here are five takeaway from the Pirates’ loss.
1. Still no luck with Memphis: Memphis was the Pirates’ second opponent they have played two times so far this season. With USF Sunday and Memphis Wednesday, ECU was swept in the season series by both teams. ECU lost 78-72 at Memphis on Jan. 10, and that game was largely similar to Wednesday’s game. ECU was up 59-51 with 13:16 left in the game before Memphis outscored them 27-13 the rest of the way. This game was neck-and-neck for most of it, but ECU had its last lead at 61-60 with 8:11 to play and didn’t lead again.
2. Isaac Fleming ECU not having its point guard and only senior who plays big minutes for most of the game definitely hurt them. Fleming played just six minutes before being hit in the face and missing the rest of the game. The offense didn’t flow the same without Fleming leading the point. Fleming is also ECU’s best perimeter defender and his absence also hurt when it came to guarding Memphis guard Jeremiah Martin.
3. Jeremiah Martin is the real deal As previously mentioned, Fleming’s absence hurt the Pirates in their defense of Martin but he can sure score regardless. Martin scored 41 points in the second half alone against USF earlier in the season after all. With Kyvon Davenport getting in foul trouble and playing just 16 minutes, Martin controlled the game with 31 points and went 12-of-15 from the free-throw line. Martin scored 20 of his 31 points in the second half.
4. Penny Hardaway complimentary of Joe Dooley Memphis head coach and former NBA all-star Penny Hardaway was complimentary of ECU and the job head coach Joe Dooley is doing in his first season at the helm. “They are playing their hearts out & he is going to build a program here because Coach Dooley is competitive, the guys are listening to him,” Hardaway told reporters after the game.
5. Dooley taking the long-term view One of Dooley’s biggest points of emphasis coming into the season was that the Pirates would play hard and to win. They certainly do, but it is still going to take time to build a competitive roster. The Pirates have limitations such as lack of shooting. Despite quite a few open looks, ECU shot 22 percent on 3 pointers, not much better than the 16 percent they shot in the first meeting in January. “We are going to get this thing figured out, it’s going to take some time, I don’t know how long. We are recruiting guys that are high-level guys we just got to get a couple of them. We’ve got to develop the guys in the program and when we get guys, we have to retain them and develop them,” Dooley said to reporters afterward.
From here, ECU next plays the 14-10 Tulsa Hurricanes on Sunday inside Minges Coliseum at 2 p.m. It is the first meeting between the two teams this season. Tulsa sports the fourth-best field goal percentage in the conference and the best 3 point percentage of the AAC teams. The Hurricanes get crushed on the boards, however, as they rank dead last in rebounding margin at -3.6. Tulsa has two players who shoot 53 percent or better from the field and are led by DaQuan Jeffries 13.9 points per game and 5.6 rebounds per game