Old Dominion and East Carolina took the court this past Tuesday for the fiftieth time; second most among ODU's current non-conference opponents. (Richmond is first with the 52nd meeting happening later this year.) However, no one really seemed to care about that semi-historical mark.
East Carolina was a charter member of the Colonial Athletic Association when it began in 1982 and stayed there for until following their football team to Conference USA after the 2000-01 season. Old Dominion entered in the Colonial in 1991, but the series started back in 1967 when the Monarchs were still a Division II school and the Pirates were in the Southern Conference. The early years of the series were highlighted by black line upsets, a lot of them by Old Dominion. Eight of the first eleven games between the two were ODU wins before the Monarchs began moving to Division I in 1976. That year was also the last year of ECU's full membership in the SoCon as they moved their football team to Division I-A. That move would become a sort of death knell for East Carolina basketball as the Pirates would only finish in the top four of their conference three times in the next 30 seasons. (ECU played as an Independent from 1977 to 1981).
However, while in the CAA, East Carolina was a constant thorn in Old Dominion's side, splitting season series five times, sweeping in the 1999-2000 season, and winning four of their last six conference matchups. Fast forwarding to recent times, East Carolina fans have clearly focused their efforts on football, celebrating recent bowl berths in Houston, Mobile, Birmingham and Memphis, and wiping their hands of sub .500 seasons on the hardwood. In the lands of threaded internet #SMAC, discussions between ECU fans and fans of CAA schools inevitably end with a proclaiming of Pirate football supremacy and a quick exit. The ECU basketball program is spending the football money on guarantee games, playing four Non-D1 home games this season.
Tuesday's game was the second game of a first half of this home and home series with Old Dominion winning the first leg last year at East Carolina, 81-68. It was another sparsely attended weeknight game, well under the announced attendance of nearly 7300. The play of the game continued Old Dominion's streak of low offense, high defense with a halftime score of 25-23 in favor of the Monarchs. ECU's 23 first half points were well off their average pace of scoring 76+ points per game. A spate of ODU fouls early in the second half powered a 10-2 Pirate run that gave them a 42-35 lead at the under-12 media timeout. The Monarchs responded by scoring on seven of their next eight possessions taking a 50-44 lead after free throws out of the under-8 timeout. ECU would close to within two three times but could not tie or take the lead. The Monarchs held on for a 63-58 win, widening their record against ECU to 36 wins and 14 losses. The game was an upset in the terms of The Mid-Majority, but most Monarch fans were blissfully unaware of the divide and left the building with their expected win.
at OLD DOMINION 63, EAST CAROLINA 58 11/29/2011
EAST CAROLINA 4-2 (0-0) -- M. Paul 4-19 1-2 10; D. Morrow 4-6 3-4 11; A. Steed 0-6 4-7 4; P. Roberts-Campbell 3-8 1-1 9; S. Bowden 5-6 0-0 14; C. Gaines 0-2 2-6 2; E. Straughn 1-2 0-0 3; M. Kemp 1-3 1-2 3; R. Sampson 1-5 0-0 2; D. Morales 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-57 12-22 58. OLD DOMINION 4-3 (0-0) -- T. Iliadis 3-7 0-0 7; N. Wright 2-8 8-14 12; C. Cooper 5-7 2-6 12; D. Batten 7-14 2-2 18; K. Bazemore 2-8 0-0 5; M. De Lancey 1-2 0-2 2; J. Pimentel 2-5 2-3 6; B. Key 0-1 1-2 1. Totals 22-52 15-29 63.
Three-point goals: ECU 8-27 (S. Bowden 4-5; M. Paul 1-10; C. Gaines 0-1; E. Straughn 1-2; M. Kemp 0-2; R. Sampson 0-2; P. Roberts-Campbell 2-5), ODU 4-18 (K. Bazemore 1-6; M. De Lancey 0-1; T. Iliadis 1-5; D. Batten 2-5; B. Key 0-1); Rebounds: ECU 35 (A. Steed 11), ODU 40 (C. Cooper 11); Assists: ECU 10 (M. Paul 7), ODU 14 (T. Iliadis 5); Total Fouls -- ECU 24, ODU 20; Fouled Out: ECU-R. Sampson; ODU-C. Cooper.