March 1, 2008
GREENVILLE, N.C. - East Carolina's Cory Farmer hit a pair of free throws with 22 seconds remaining to help lift the Pirates to an 84-83 win over the University of Houston men's basketball team on Saturday at Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum.
The loss spoiled a valiant comeback by the Cougars, who trailed by 12 points at the halftime break but rallied to take a four-point lead at 80-76 on senior forward Dion Dowell's free throw with 2:28 remaining.
ECU's James Legan nailed a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession and, after a Cougar miss, connected on another shot with 1:45 remaining to hand the Pirates an 82-80 lead. The Cougars pulled to within a point at 82-81 when senior guard Lanny Smith hit the first of two free throws with 1:20 remaining and grabbed the lead at 83-82 when senior guard Robert McKiver was fouled driving to the basket and hit two free throws with 44 seconds left.
Following a timeout, Farmer was fouled while driving to the basket and hit both free throws to hand ECU the lead for good. After working his way down the court, McKiver's shot at the buzzer was off the mark for the final score.
Three days after setting a C-USA single-game record with 52 points against Southern Miss, McKiver led the Cougars with 29 points, thanks to four 3-pointers and 11 free throws and added a team-high eight rebounds. Sophomore guard Kelvin Lewis added 19 points and seven rebounds in the losing effort.
Dowell came off the bench to pour in 17 points with four 3-pointers, including 14 of those in the second half.
Sam Hinnant led East Carolina with 30 points, including eight 3-pointers, while Farmer finished with 13 points. Legan and John Fields both added 10 points in the winning effort.
With the loss, the Cougars fell to 21-7 overall and 10-4 in C-USA action. East Carolina improved to 10-17 and 4-10 in league games.
Early in the game, the Pirates seemed to have all the momentum. ECU scored the game's first eight points and eventually built a 12-point lead at 31-19 when Hinnant connected on a jumper at the 7:14 mark of the first half.
But the Cougars came roaring out of the locker room following the halftime break, cutting that 12-point deficit to only three points at 53-50 on junior guard DaShaun Williams' layup at the 15:46 mark. While East Carolina would enjoy small runs the rest of the game, the Pirates would never lead by more than seven points the rest of the way.
The Cougars return to action at 7 p.m., Wednesday, when they play host to C-USA rival UCF at Hofheinz Pavilion. Fans can enjoy Senior Night in pregame ceremonies with forwards Tafari Toney and Dion Dowell and guards Robert McKiver, Lanny Smith, Marcus Malone being recognized for their years of hard work.
Fans can hear the game live on 790 AM The Sports Animal with Tom Franklin calling the play-by-play action and Carl Dukes providing color analysis. Fans always can follow live stats on the Internet by clicking on the Gametracker link at UHCougars.com.