Saturday afternoon will be dedicated to hoops and heroes as East Carolina University (1-2, 0-0 AAC) men’s basketball team will take on Liberty University (3-0, 0-0 ASC) at 4 p.m. in Minges Coliseum for ECU’s Salute to Service game.
This Saturday is our #SaluteToService game! We honor our military and armed forces with this special ticket + concession deal, plus, the first 250 fans will receive our special ECU Salute to Service t-shirts. 🇺🇸Buy your tickets today! 🎟️➡️ https://t.co/tQc75QbPqC pic.twitter.com/CwYNX9opM1— ECU Men’s Basketball (@ecubasketball) November 13, 2019
Liberty will enter Greenville fresh off of their third win of the season against South Carolina State University (65-39). Redshirt senior forward Scottie James accumulated 12 rebounds in the game, 34 this season, which pushed him to 675 career rebounds and put him solidly in ninth on Liberty’s all-time rebounding list. This season he has made 15 of his 27 attempted field goals and has had a total of 33 points this season, making him the Flames’ highest scoring player.
Other leading players for the flames to keep an eye on are redshirt senior guard Caleb Homesley and junior guard/forward Elija Cuffee. Homesley has made four blocks and four steals this season, making him one of Liberty’s leading blockers, while shooting 69.2% from the free throw line. Cuffee has also blocked four shots and racked up three steals this season, while shooting 75% accuracy from the charity stripe.
"We try and measure the quality of our offensive efficiency on the looks that we get and we got great looks (early) we just didn't make them,” Liberty head coach Ritchie McKay said in a press release after their last game. “I think it snowballed a little bit and we kept looking up at that scoreboard. We were missing point blank shots and missing them and this team is too talented to beat itself on the offensive end.”
Over the first three games of the season, Liberty has shown a strong defense and an improving offense. In all three of their games they have won by an average of 14 points. They currently shoot 47.4% in field goals, 35.3% accuracy in three-point shots and 60% accuracy from the free throw line.
East Carolina will be returning home from their second loss of the season. Sophomore forward Jayden Gardner continues to be the Pirates’ leading scorer. Gardner sits 19 points above the second highest scorer for the team with 54 total points this season and an 18 point per game average. Gardner also leads the team in rebounds with 26 and has the team’s highest percentage from the free throw line making 85.7% (18-of-21) of his attempts.
“I think our moral is fine,” head coach Joe Dooley said. “I think the big thing is getting some confidence. Winning creates confidence, and now how do you do those things. The only person that can take your confidence is yourself, that’s what we taught our guys.”
Redshirt senior forward Seth LeDay is the Pirates’ second leading scorer with 35 points this season. LeDay leads ECU in field goals and field goal percentage, sinking 61.5% (16-26). Freshman guard Tristen Newton leads the team in assists with 14 total for the season averaging 4.7 per game.
While the Pirates handle the ball well in the lane, they only have a 26.9% three-point shot accuracy. They have on average 6.7 steals and 4.3 blocks per game and 66.1% average from the free throw line.
ECU will welcome Liberty University to Minges Coliseum on Saturday for their ECU’s second home game of the season. Tip-off is scheduled for 4 p.m.