GREENVILLE, N.C. - East Carolina used a 17-4 run during the final four minutes to rally and claim a 74-70 win against the University of Houston men's basketball team Saturday evening inside Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum.
Leading by as many as 13 points in the second half, the Cougars held a 66-57 lead when freshman forward Alandise Harris hit a jumper with 4:02 remaining. Unfortunately, that would be the final points the Cougars would score until less than 15 seconds remained in the contest.
The Pirates took advantage of four Houston turnovers and five fouls in the final four minutes to stage the rally. During that time, the Pirates converted on 9-of-10 attempts from the free throw line and finished the game 28-of-34 from the charity stripe.
The Cougars connected on 13-of-19 free throw attempts in the game.
The Cougars battled back and moved to within 71-68 when senior guard Adam Brown hit a pair of free throws with 13 seconds left. ECU's Jontae Sherrod hit 1-of-2 free throws after being fouled, and Harris moved the Cougars to within 72-70 after hitting a layup with five seconds remaining. However, ECU guard Brock Young hit the final two free throws with just four seconds to go to ice the win.
With the loss, the Cougars lost their third straight game and fell to 11-9 overall, 3-4 in C-USA games. East Carolina improved to 12-9 overall and 4-3 in league games.
The loss spoiled the performance of senior forward Maurice McNeil, who led the Cougars with 18 points and 13 rebounds. It was the New York native's team-leading seventh double-double of the season and the 13th of his career.
McNeil was one of four Cougars to reach double digits. Harris finished with 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting and added five rebounds, while Brown added 12 points with a pair of 3-pointers, seven rebounds and four assists. Senior guard Zamal Nixon added 10 points with two rebounds and two assists.
Sherrod led all players with 20 points, while forward Darrius Morrow added 18 points and six rebounds to lead East Carolina. Corvonn Gaines posted 13 points, and Young tallied 11 points with four rebounds and a game-high five assists.
The Cougars return to the friendly confines of Hofheinz to play host to Marshall at 8 p.m., Tuesday, against Marshall. That game will be televised live on CBS College Sports with Roger Twibell calling the play-by-play action and Steve Lappas serving as analyst.
From there, the team hits the road again to face Tulsa at 7:05 p.m., Saturday, at the Reynolds Center in Tulsa, Okla. The Cougars enjoyed a 64-57 win against the Golden Hurricane on Jan. 19 inside Hofheinz Pavilion.
Fans can hear all Cougar men's basketball games live on SportsTalk 790 AM KBME with Tom Franklin calling the play-by-play action and Cougar legend Elvin Hayes serving as analyst.
Five regular-season home games remain on the schedule, and Cougar men's basketball tickets are available now. Fans can choose from a variety of different ticket packages that best suit their needs, including the Pick 4 Pack (fans' choice of any four remaining home games).
Fans also can purchase the Houston Hoops 4-Pack for the UAB (Feb. 26) game at Hofheinz Pavilion. For only $48, fans can receive 4 general admission tickets, 4 small drinks, 4 hot dogs and 4 hats (selected styles) from the UH Fan Shop.
If more than four tickets are needed, each additional ticket purchased will cost only $12 each and will receive the extra items.
The Houston Hoops 4-Pack will not be available on game days at the Hofheinz Pavilion ticket windows.
Fans also can join the "H" Association barbecue on Feb. 12 and receive one reserved seat ticket to the Cougars' C-USA showdown against Tulane for only $20.
Fans have several options when ordering their men's basketball tickets. They can visit the Athletics Ticket Office, located on the first floor of the Athletics/Alumni Center by the UH Fan Shop, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
The Cougars shot 49.1 percent (26-of-53) from the field, marking the ninth game this season that Houston shot 48 percent or better... Houston reached 48 percent from the field only seven times in the entire 2009-10 season... The Cougars also outrebounded the Pirates 36-35, marking the eighth time in 2010-11 that the team accomplished that... Houston outrebounded its opponents seven times in 35 games a year ago... Head coach James Dickey and his staff wore sneakers with their suits on the sidelines as part of Coaches vs. Cancer awareness weekend... College and high school coaching staffs across the country wore sneakers on the sidelines to bring attention that everyone can take daily steps to reduce their risk of cancer.