Junior Kentrell Barkley ushered in the season with a steal and thunderous dunk and went on to score 14 points, leading East Carolina to a 76-50 rout of Coppin State on Sunday at Minges Coliseum.
Barkley finished 5-of-7 from the field, 4-of-4 from the free throw line and grabbed seven rebounds in just 20 minutes.
Redshirt freshman Shawn Williams also scored 14 points in just 17 minutes off the bench, knocking down a pair of 3-pointers and finishing 4-of-9 from the field. Junior Isaac Fleming, a transfer from Hawaii, scored 10 of his 12 points in the final seven minutes of the first half as the Pirates cruised to a commanding 40-18 lead.
Coppin State crept no closer than 15 in the second half. ECU led by as much as 27 at 69-42 on a pair of free throws by Williams with 4:07 to go.
“It was nice to get that first game under wraps here” head coach Jeff Lebo said after ECU won its 18th consecutive season opener and 16th straight home opener. “I thought we did some good things, in particular, defensively. I was very worried in this game because of their ability to shoot the ball from the perimeter, so I thought we did a great job, and I thought we made it difficult for them to get an open look.”
Coppin State, which opened the season with a 70-54 loss at Oregon on Friday in a game that started at 11:59 p.m. EDT, showed signs of jetlag in shooting just 18.5 percent (5-of-27) in the first 20 minutes, including 4-of-20 from three-point range, and 24.6 percent for the game. The Eagles failed to score the final 5:25 of the first half.
ECU had a dominant 36-8 advantage in points in the paint, 36-22 margin in bench points and 47-30 bulge on the boards.
The Pirates return to action on Wednesday at 7 p.m. against Radford, which stands 1-1 after an 82-72 loss to Ohio State on Sunday.