The theme was 'too little, too late' for ECU men’s basketball when it opened Conference USA play with a 67-54 loss at conference opponent Memphis Wednesday night.
Coming into the game ECU had an overall record of 1-12 against Memphis and have never beaten the Tigers at their home court.
With seniors Miguel Paul and Maurice Kemp at the helm the Pirates seemed poised to make a statement.
The game started out on a good foot for the Pirates as point guard Miguel Paul hit a three-pointer for the first points of the game.
Then the Tigers got the ball.
Immediately after Paul's three things started going downhill. The Tigers jumped out to a 10-0 run.
Memphis came out in a full-court press to start the game causing a lot of turnovers and allowing them to build a quick lead. Before the Pirates knew what hit them they were down by double digits.
Memphis’ biggest lead was 39-12 at 2:14 left in the half.
With just over ten seconds left in the half the Pirates were shooting 11 percent from the field, Memphis was 53 percent.
ECU only made two baskets until just under five minutes in the first half, while Memphis had ten different scorers.
The play of Maurice Kemp drew a lot of attention in the first half. Kemp, who had been averaging 20 points in the past three games, was held scoreless until 1:38 until halftime.
With that being said, Kemp would go 3-3 (including a three-point play) for 7 points in that last 1:38, giving his team a bit of momentum to end the half.
At the end of the first half Memphis led the Pirates 39-19 in points, 23-11 in rebounds, and in shooting percentage as well (48 to 30 percent).
Starting the second half down by 20 points, the Pirates had a lot of work cut out for them.
Luckily they came out flying and put up 16 points in the first four minutes of the half after a string of three pointers from Shamarr Bowden and Robert Sampson.
After being down by 27, the Pirates went on a 23-4 run. Eventually the Tiger lead was trimmed to five points. Unfortunately for ECU, the five point gap didn’t last long as Memphis extended the lead back to eight.
When it comes down to it, Memphis made the plays necessary to hold onto its late lead.
The final score was 67-54 Memphis. The Pirates are now 9-5 on the season and only 1-4 away from home.
Scoring leaders for the Pirates included: Shamarr Bowden with 11 pts, Miguel Paul with 10 pts and 7 assists, Maurice Kemp with 11 pts and 5 rebounds, and Robert Sampson with his average of 10 points 9 rebounds.
ECU continues Conference USA play against UCF at home Jan 12. Tip-off is set 7 p.m.