There will be no four-wins-in-four-days miracle run through the Conference USA tournament this year. The last remaining potential Cinderella, the East Carolina Pirates, who had already knocked off the top-seeded UAB Blazers, were beaten handily by Memphis in Friday evening's semifinal. The Tigers set up a championship showdown with host UTEP on Saturday morning, after dispatching ECU, 76-56.
It looked as though the Pirates might make a game of it for much of the first half until a 14-4 Memphis run gave the Tigers a 29-16 edge. A Jamar Abrams three-pointer pulled ECU within eight points in the final minute of the first half, but Memphis scored the last five points of the first half, and opened the second half on an 18-2 run to put the game away.
Only two Tigers played over 30 minutes in the game, as the big deficit allowed UM to rest its starters, in preparation for its third game in three days, in tomorrow's conference championship game against the Miners. Still, it will be interesting to see which team comes out with more energy for the 9:30 AM local tip.
One of the two Tigers to break the 30-minute barrier in the win was junior guard Charles Carmouche, who hit all three of his two-point field goals, three-of-four from beyond the arc, and all four free throws for 19 points. Joe Jackson came off the bench to score 24 points in 24 minutes for Memphis.
Pretty much single-handedly keeping things semi-respectable for East Carolina was Darrius Morrow, who posted game highs in points (25) and rebounds (14). Unfortunately for the Pirates, the rest of the team went 11-of-38 from the field.