The most frustrating thing for East Carolina’s basketball team on Saturday was scoring 89 points at James Madison but still losing by double digits.
ECU’s mission to have a better December than November, when the team got off to a 2-6 start to the season, begins with improving on defense. Opponents are shooting 40.5 percent from 3-point range versus the Pirates.
“You reevaluate ... and we’re giving up way too many points,” coach Joe Dooley said before Monday’s practice in Minges Coliseum. “Our offensive stats were great the other day. It was our defense that let us down. A lot of it is practice and repetition. ... We need to close out a little bit tighter, and we’ve fouled too much.”
Pluses for the Pirates in their four-game road swing included Tyrie Jackson continuing his implementation after returning from injury and Tremont Robinson-White making his season debut at JMU. Robinson-White played 24 minutes and totaled 14 points, two steals, three assists and four fouls.
“I felt good physically and mentally,” said Robinson-White, who had been out with an ankle issue. “Everything was good, I just woke up a little bit sore. That is just something I have to fight through.”
Dooley added that Robinson-White and Jackson are still limited in practice minutes, which remains as a challenge from a defensive standpoint. Senior forward Seth LeDay also didn’t play in the last two games.
Coppin State (3-6) at East Carolina (2-6), 7 p.m.
How to watch: ESPN3.
What to watch: It would be smart to look for a lot of points. Coppin State scored 94 last Tuesday to beat James Madison, then JMU hosted the Pirates and scored 99 on Saturday to defeat ECU 99-89. Pirate forward Jayden Gardner is at 19.4 points per game, which is a solid cushion over ECU’s second-leading scorer of Robinson-White with 14 points.
Matchup to watch: Coppin’s two leading scorers are both veteran guards. Fifth-year senior guard Kamar McKnight scored 24 points in 32 minutes versus Rider to begin the season, but only six the next game versus Virginia Tech while shooting 1-for-10 3-point range, and he has made at least two 3s in five contests. The Pirates’ last game featured them shooting 13-of-27 on 3-pointers.