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Pirates show sharpshooting performance


East Carolina's Shawn Williams scores against South Florida on Wednesday night. Jan. 17, 2018. (Molly Mathis/The Daily Reflector)


The Daily Reflector

Thursday, January 18, 2018

East Carolina could not miss at times in its corralling of the South Florida Bulls on Wednesday night, and that has been a rare occurrence.

The Pirates broke a three-game losing streak in a major way, decimating USF for 35 field goals on a sizzling 61.4 percent. ECU also went 11-for-19 (57.9 percent) from 3-point range, including a breakout performance from freshman Shawn Williams as he drained six 3s and posted a career-high 22 points in the 90-52 blowout.

“As a coach, you don’t get a chance to see nights like this too often, but you really enjoy them,” ECU interim head coach Michael Perry said after the win, the biggest league victory for the Pirates since they were in the Southern Conference and drilled Virginia Military Institute 108-66 in 1970.

“This has been a building process. This has been coming,” Perry said. “It’s very difficult to see sometimes the improvement when you’re playing Wichita State and Houston, but there has been improvement. The team is getting better, and it’s just great to see all it all come together. Sometimes you spend all the time working but you don’t get to see the results.”

Junior Kentrell Barkley had the most complete game of anyone on the court, scoring 18 points, grabbing 10 rebounds, dishing seven assists and swiping seven steals, three of which went for easy fast-break dunks.

It was part of a balanced attack that saw five double-digit scorers and 22 assists.

“I think the focus should be sharing the ball and team basketball,” Barkley said. “I feel like we’re unstoppable if we play team basketball because we’ve got a lot of talent, a lot of key aspects on this team that can help us out.”

Williams continues to be the Pirates’ primary provider off the bench, netting a combined 37 points in his last two games.

The Little Rock, Ark., native said he doesn’t mind his role, especially since he is able to take the floor and hit shots no matter when he comes into the game. On Wednesday, he heated up late in the first half, knocking down a trio of 3-pointers, including one just before the halftime buzzer that gave the Pirates a monster 44-18 edge.

Williams said it’s easier coming off the bench when the team on the floor is shooting like it was against the Bulls.

“I am kind of out there sitting on the bench kind of getting a little tight, but as long as they’re out there killing, I’m the best teammate,” he said. “I’m out there cheering, yelling, so it is kind of tough, but it’s all right.”

Contact Nathan Summers at nsummers@reflector.com, 252-329-9595 and follow @NateSumm99 on Twitter.