ORLANDO, Fla. – Jeff Lebo will have to wait another year to capture his 100th win as head coach of the East Carolina Pirates, and he will have to do it without his current crop of seniors.
East Carolina’s 71-66 first round defeat to the South Florida Bulls on Thursday afternoon eliminated the team from the American Athletic Conference Championship, and will end the college career of five seniors.
Prince Williams, Michael Zangari, Kanu Aja, Drew Bost, and Peyton Robbins have played their last game as a Pirate.
“I had to get out of the arena, I didn’t want to be crying out there,” said Zangari, who shot 50 per cent from the field, scoring 14 points and adding 10 rebounds. “Not being in the locker room, that’s going to be the hardest thing – not seeing these guys every day.”
Williams, who was named the conference’s most improved player, struggled. The 6-foot-5 guard scored only nine points while shooting two-for-10 from the field.
“I just wanted to come in and play my regular game,” Williams said. “Unfortunately I didn’t have a good performance, something I’m not too happy about – going out like that.”
Robbins, a walk-on in his freshman year, is grateful for being a part of the program. The 6-foot-3 guard entered his senior year having scored three points in 17 minutes across three seasons.
“No one wants to go out with a loss. It’s been a great experience here for four years,” Robbins said. “I’ll look back and I’ll have all these great memories and it’s going to be awesome.”
Coach Lebo echoed how emotional it is to say goodbye to his senior class, one he said had made tremendous contributions to the program.
“It is always hard to see them on their last game,” Lebo said. “To know they are going to step into another area of their life and that this group won’t be together again.
“It’s always difficult, it’s always tough, and not a whole lot you can say as a coach.”
With files from Ciarán Breen