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Pirates fall to SMU in league opener

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East Carolina's head coach Joe Dooley talks to players during a timeout on Nov. 9, 2018, in Minges Coliseum. (Molly Mathis/The Daily Reflector)

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The Daily Reflector

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

A mostly steady opening half by the East Carolina basketball team Wednesday night at SMU was quickly washed out by the favored Mustangs after halftime, leading to SMU handing the Pirates an 82-54 defeat.

ECU trailed by two points, 23-21, with 4:57 until halftime in its first American Athletic Conference game of the season, but the Mustangs surged from there in a major way and opened up a 52-26 advantage early in the second half thanks to starting the half on a 17-1 run.

SMU led 35-25 at halftime. The Mustangs (9-4) improved to 7-1 in their last eight games and they have won 10 straight over the Pirates (7-6).

“I’ve done this a long time and that’s about as interesting of a start to a second half as I’ve ever seen” ECU coach Joe Dooley said on the Pirate IMG Network. “I thought for about 16 or 17 minutes of the first half we controlled tempo and did a nice job. ... (Then) it was just a total breakdown by all of us.”

Dooley and SMU head coach Tim Jankovich were assistants together at Kansas under Bill Self in the early 2000s.

ECU was in the lead for 7:42 of the first half. It went up 14-10 on a K.J. Davis 3-pointer. Jayden Gardner muscled his way to an inside bucket for his first points, giving the Pirates an 18-15 edge at the 9:14 mark of the opening half.

But SMU flooded Gardner all night and threw double-teams his way, leading to the freshman forward having to work extra hard to reach 16 points on 5-of-13 shooting from the field in 35 minutes. He had six rebounds and five turnovers.

Tyler Foster scored 11 off the bench for the Pirates.

Jahmal McMurray’s layup created the 35-25 SMU halftime advantage and then McMurray scored the first eight points of the second half. He finished with 20 points and was 4-of-11 from 3-point range.

SMU was 7-of-21 from the 3-point arc and East Carolina, which hosts Cincinnati on Saturday, was 3-for-15. SMU also enjoyed a 30-18 advantage in fastbreak points.

Jimmy Whitt Jr. made seven of his eight field goal attempts, complementing McMurray with 17 points, six assists and three steals.

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ECU

April 19, 2019

East Carolina pitcher Jake Agnos and coach Cliff Godwin had a heated exchange on the pitcher’s mound during the ninth inning Thursday night at Clark-LeClair Stadium, which turned into a more calm and productive conversation between the pair a few minutes later after ECU completed a 5-1 win…

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April 18, 2019

Jeff Hoffman wowed plenty of professional baseball scouts at East Carolina from 2012 to 2014 before he was selected as the ninth overall pick in the 2014 Major League Baseball draft.

It was Jake Agnos’ turn at Clark-LeClair Stadium on Thursday, when about 30 scouts were packed into their…

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April 18, 2019

A pre­mier matchup on the pitcher’s mound should high­light Game 1 of the Con­necti­cut-East Carolina base­ball se­ries, which be­gins to­day at 6:30 p.m. and ends Satur­day at Clark-LeClair Sta­dium.

Jake Ag­nos has been the ace for the…

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April 17, 2019

When Cincinnati eliminated East Carolina in the first round of the American Athletic Conference women’s tennis tournament on Wednesday in Orlando, Fla., it marked the Pirates’ first loss since Jan. 23 and ended their season.

The Bearcats won 4-1 and advanced as the No. 10 seed to play…

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April 16, 2019

East Carolina smashed a couple of home runs in a five-run first inning at Elon on Tuesday night, then added another in the eighth en route to a 9-4 rout of the Phoenix in non-conference baseball action.

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April 16, 2019

When East Carolina linebacker Aaron Ramseur showed up late for the first team meeting of spring practice, he and the rest of the Pirate football team got an early idea of how much things were about to change under new head coach Mike Houston.

When he arrived late for the 7 a.m. meeting, Ramseur,…

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April 16, 2019

How student-athletes spend their monthly scholarship money, their freedoms when living off campus and East Carolina University’s facilities all are factors as the school plans to implement an athletic-specific dining area in the future.

ECU student-athletes who are on full…

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April 15, 2019

East Carolina baseball coach Cliff Godwin heard during the Pirates’ weekend series at No. 1 UCLA that it felt like an NCAA super regional.

The Bruins swept ECU with all three games decided by three runs or less, only strengthening their resume as college baseball’s best team but…

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April 15, 2019

Coach Mike Houston said after Saturday’s spring Purple-Gold Game that today will be a big day for he and his staff to evaluate the entire East Carolina football roster, keeping in mind that more players will be added to the mix for preseason camp.

Cuts will likely be made and the very early…

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April 14, 2019

UCLA again proved its billing as the No. 1-ranked college baseball team in the country with a sweep of No. 8 East Carolina in Los Angeles, completing the sweep late Saturday night with a 3-0 win over ECU.

The third game was the only in the series in which the Pirates (25-10), who were held to four…

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