East Carolina University men’s basketball (2-0, 0-0 American Athletic Conference) is set to take on Hampton University (1-1, 0-0 Southern Conference) on Nov. 16 for a 7 p.m. tipoff for the Pirates’ third game of the season in Minges Coliseum in Greenville, North Carolina.
The Pirates last contest against Presbyterian University (1-1, 0-0 Big South Conference) was an electrifying one that the fans had to be there for the whole way. ECU struggled in the first half, making only 25% of their field goals. This caused the Pirates to go down big as the Blue Hose got out to a 23-4 start with 9:37 remaining in the first half.
The scoring differential of 19 points was Presbyterian’s biggest lead of the game. This early run was attributed to sophomore forward Terrell Ard Jr. and senior forward Owen McCormack, who both scored six points a piece within the first 10 minutes of the ball game.
“We have to find a way to be better at starting games,” Head Coach Michael Schwartz said during the post-game press conference. “The biggest thing was that they were making tough shots, give them credit they have really good players, on the other end that’s where we were really struggling. We were abysmal in the first 10-12 minutes of the first half.”
Schwartz subbed in freshman guard Kalib LaCount and he started to give the Pirates life on the offensive end. LaCount went on to score 13 of the Pirates first 19 points with various three pointers and a tough and-1 layup to cut the Blue Hose lead to 30-21. With a couple of more buckets from the Pirates and the Blue Hose, the halftime score ended up being 32-26, with Presbyterian holding on to the lead.
In the second half, the Pirates’ offensive numbers were boosted compared to the first half. ECU shot 59.3% from the field, and a high three point percentage of 64.3%. Presbyterian’s shooting got troubled by ECU’s defense in the second half, as their shooting percentage plummeted from 44% to 25.8% from the first half to the second half.
Sophomore guards RJ Felton and Javon Small were the heroes in the second half of the game, scoring 20 and 16 points respectively. Both players played all 20 minutes in this half. Small scored all of his points in this game in this half, overall shooting 4-8 from the field and 3-5 from three point range. Felton had everything going for him in the second half as he made 7-10 of his shots with four of those being three pointers.
The final score of the contest would end up being 77-57, with the Pirates outscoring the Blue Hose 51-25 in the second half. The substantial 19 point comeback was the second largest comeback in school history for ECU. This record is tied with a 19 point comeback that happened last season against Memphis on Jan. 15, 2022.
Looking ahead to Hampton, they will be traveling from Virginia to face off against the undefeated Pirates. They have played James Madison (3-0, 0-0 Sun Belt Conference) and Regent University (0-2, 0-0 National Christian Collegiate Athletic Association). Against James Madison, Hampton lost by a large margin with a score of 106-58, but then went on to beat Regent 89-60.
Hampton’s squad has been led by strong guard play from players like senior guard Marquise Goodwin, who is averaging 12 points per game. Sophomore guard Amir Nesbitt also averages 11 points on the season so far. Senior forward Raymond Bethea Jr. has been on the glass heavily as he is leading Hampton in rebounds per game with eight.
Small for the Pirates will be looking to keep his high scoring season going against Hampton, as he is the leading scorer for ECU with 19.5 points per game. Hampton will have a handful on the defensive side of the ball against the Pirates because they average 77 points per game, compared to Hamptons 58.
Following this home game for the Pirates, the team will have a four day break and then will be playing in the Gulf Coast Showcase in Estero, Florida. Their matchup will be Indiana State University (2-0, 0-0 Missouri Valley Conference) on Nov. 21 at 1:30 p.m.
Next up after that for ECU will be Old Dominion University (1-1, 0-0 Sun Belt Conference) where the Pirates will have their first away game on an enemy's home court. This game will be on Nov. 26 at 7 p.m.