By AARON BEARD, Associated Press Writer
January 17, 2003
GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP) -- Louisville coach Rick Pitino has preached the importance of defense to his players. It's obvious they're listening.
Marvin Stone had 23 points and nine rebounds, and Reece Gaines added 22 points as No. 15 Louisville used its fullcourt pressure to beat East Carolina 87-70 on Thursday night.
The Cardinals (11-1, 3-0 Conference USA) won their 10th straight and are off to their best start since the 1996-97 season. It was also their fourth road win, already surpassing last season's three.
They played a terrific all-around game, shooting 58 percent and moving the ball well on offense while using their suffocating defense to shut down the Pirates.
Stone and Gaines combined to shoot 18-for-23 from the floor. Ten players scored for the Cardinals, who committed only nine turnovers.
``Our team played a great game at both ends,'' Pitino said. ``We're very excited about this win. It's not an easy place to come into and we played dominating basketball.''
Derrick Wiley had 21 points to lead East Carolina (10-4, 1-2), which had won its last five conference games at Minges Coliseum. The Pirates beat the Cardinals 87-77 exactly one year earlier to earn their first league win.
The Cardinals, however, took control early.
Louisville went on a 17-1 run midway through the first half to take a double-digit lead it would not relinquish. The Cardinals led by as many as 31 in the second half and spent much of the game shooting well above 60 percent.
That effort came against a team that had been holding opponents to 38 percent shooting and 61 points per game.
The Pirates shot just 38 percent, including an 8-for-27 effort in the first half.
``We had a lot of respect for them,'' said Gaines, who had six assists. ``They're a great team at home and we know anybody can beat us. We always come in with the attitude that if we don't play our best defense, we're going to lose.''
East Carolina led 15-14 on two free throws from Erroyl Bing with 11:54 left in the first half, but the Cardinals scored 15 unanswered points to key their big run. Kendall Dartez ended it with a layup for a 31-16 lead with 6:42 left in the half.
The Cardinals did it with balance, often penetrating into the East Carolina defense then passing to an open teammate. Ellis Myles scored two inside baskets, while Gaines added a 3-pointer and assisted on two close shots.
Louisville's defense forced the Pirates into nine straight misses during the run en route to a 45-26 halftime lead.
``You've got to be so careful in how you play them,'' East Carolina coach Bill Herrion said. ``We were playing pretty well. Then you start rushing, playing fast, shooting quickly and not making shots. And you play right into their hands. That's what the press does to you.''
The Cardinals opened the second half with a 10-1 spurt. Gaines had a reverse layup and a jumper during the run, which ended with Taquan Dean's jumper from the right wing for a 55-27 lead with 17:12 to play.
Louisville took its largest lead at 65-34 on a dunk by Stone off a feed from Myles with 13:59 left. East Carolina rallied to 76-62 on a jumper from Wiley with about five minutes left, but the Pirates got no closer.
Updated on Friday, Jan 17, 2003 12:08 am, EST
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