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White passes Young in Pirate victory

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ECU's Caleb White shoots over NC A&T's Davaris McGowens on Nov. 16, 2016. (Joe Pellegrino/The Daily Reflector)


By Tony Castleberry
The Daily Reflector

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Elijah Hughes said he felt different in his second college basketball game, and the results were vastly different from the first.

After playing seven scoreless minutes in his collegiate debut on Friday, Hughes, a 6-foot-6 freshman, scored 10 points in 21 minutes on Monday to help East Carolina beat N.C. A&T 61-51 in Minges Coliseum.

Senior Caleb White tied teammate B.J. Tyson with a team-high 13 points and moved into seventh place on ECU’s all-time scoring list, passing Brock Young, who was in attendance.

“He reminded me of it before the game,” White said of Young. “I had honestly forgotten about it. ... I’m just going to play through and try to have the best season I can.”

Hughes, who was 0-of-2 from the field and finished with one rebound in a season-opening victory over Grambling State, was 4-of-9 on Monday and added four rebounds and three assists for the Pirates, who started 2-0 for the fifth time in seven seasons under coach Jeff Lebo.

Finding a rhythm early and making his first shot as a college player with 14:21 left in the first half helped Hughes get going.

“I had more confidence coming into this game,” Hughes said. “First game, I had a lot of jitters, nervous, but I felt comfortable out there (against the Aggies).”

The Pirates hit 9-of-10 free throws during a stretch near the midway mark of the first half as part of a 15-3 run that made it 26-9 ECU with 8:52 remaining until halftime.

A&T (1-1) responded with an 8-0 spurt capped by Sam Hunt's 3-pointer to pull the Aggies within nine, 26-17. Hughes hit a 3 and a layup sandwiched around Kentrell Barkley's putback to push the Pirate lead back to 15 points, and Donte Watson's baseline jumper made it 35-22 at halftime.

East Carolina took its biggest lead, 55-34, on White’s 3-pointer with 7:15 left to play.

“We kind of went through the motions the last seven minutes,” Lebo said of the final margin being just 10 points. “But overall, we did some good things, particularly defensively.”

ECU blocked seven shots in the first half and finished with nine, the most for the Pirates since blocking nine in a win over Mount Olive in 2013. Jabari Craig, a 6-10 junior college transfer, was outstanding defensively and crashed the offensive glass, leading all players with four blocks and 13 rebounds, eight of those offensive boards.

Craig has come off the bench to lead the team in rebounding in both games this season, but Lebo said he is just beginning to understand how good he can be.

“We’ve got to build his confidence,” Lebo said of Craig. “He can be so good when he figures it out so we’ve just got to keep feeding him and showing him and believing in him. He didn’t play great tonight and he had six (points) and 13.”

Sam Hunt scored a game-high 17 points for A&T, which is 0-5 all-time against East Carolina.

Tyson led the Pirates in assists for the second consecutive game with five and added a game-high four steals. 

Contact Tony Castleberry at tcastleberry@reflector.com, 252-329-9591 and follow @tcastleberrygdr on Twitter.


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