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Another doubleheader on tap in Minges

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East Carolina players, led by by senior guard Isaac Fleming, take the court Tuesday in Minges Coliseum.

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Friday, November 9, 2018

A stiffer test should come for East Carolina basketball tonight with James Madison visiting Minges Coliseum to highlight the Pirates’ second straight women’s-men’s home doubleheader to begin the season.

The ECU women, who like the men are 1-0, host Monmouth at 5:30 p.m. to start the action.

Attendance in Minges on Tuesday for the Pirate men’s 81-56 victory over lowly Delaware State was 3,773, more than the 3,228 for last season’s opener. An ECU squad that started three freshmen and sophomore center Dimitri Spasojevic was fueled by an intense defensive effort and also a crowd eager to see the team under the direction of new coach Joe Dooley.

“It was great and (the fans) are starting to believe in us and have faith,” said guard Isaac Fleming, the lone senior scholarship player who had four steals and tied for the team lead with 12 points. “We just don’t want to let the fans down and keep giving them what they are coming for, to watch us win.”

Outside shooting made the difference against the Hornets. The visitors were 8-of-34 from 3-point range. ECU finished 8-for-15 with an effort led by freshman non-starter DeShaun Wade’s 3-for-5 mark.

JMU leads the all-time series 33-13 and won the last meeting, a 67-61 victory for the Dukes on Dec. 13, 2015 in Harrisonburg, Va. ECU won the previous season in Minges.

The Dukes began their season with an 86-58 victory versus overmatched Eastern Mennonite.

“The (Delaware State win) looks at a lot better statistically than it does on tape, because they had some looks and some chances on the perimeter they should have converted,” said Dooley, who is 2-7 all-time coaching against JMU. “We have to clean that up quick, but to our guys’ defense, I think we were a little sped up and a little nervous for the first time playing in front of a crowd.”

ECU should still be without standout guard Shawn Williams, who is on indefinite suspension.

The Pirates will play another home game Sunday versus Lamar.

Women’s game

The second of the East Carolina women’s team’s five straight home games to open the season is against Monmouth, which is 0-2 all-time versus the Pirates and started this year with a 70-32 loss to Bucknell.

The Pirates beat Maryland-Eastern Shore, 84-69, on Tuesday thanks to a dominant second half. ECU led 35-34 at halftime.

“I feel like we were really prepared (to begin the season), and we’re going to have to adjust and just find a way to win games,” interim coach Chad Killinger said. “It’s not always going to be pretty and possessions are not going to be perfect. … We had some people going their own ways in the first half (versus Eastern Shore), but once we got back together, you could see what we are capable of.”

Nine different players scored for ECU, led by 19 each from sophomore guards Raven Johnson and Lashonda Monk. Johnson helped stake the hosts to an early lead and finished 4-of-5 from 3-point range.

The Pirates were out-rebounded 44-39, but they took advantage of their free throw opportunities with 19 makes on 26 attempts.

Contact Ronnie Woodward at rwoodward@reflector.com, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.

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East Carolina basketball will have its reaction time tested on Sunday afternoon when the Pirates host Lamar for a 4 p.m. tip-off in Minges Coliseum.

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