American University blew a 16-point first-half lead, but rallied to beat East Carolina, 76-69, in a Colonial Athletic Association game at American's Bender Arena. It was the fifth straight win for American.

The Eagles (12-12, 7-4 in the CAA), led, 28-12, with 8:06 left in the first half, but the Pirates (7-16, 3-8) responded by utilizing a collapsing defense on forward Daryl Holmes, who scored 10 of American's first 17 points, and on Ron Davenport and Eric White.

This defense forced American to shoot outside, and because American shot poorly from outside 10 feet in the first half, the Pirates were able to narrow American's lead to 38-30 at the half.

The Pirates stayed with the collapsing defense in the second half and it continued to work, as they took a 54-53 lead on a Kenny Murphy three-pointer with 11:18 left in the game.

The contest was tied at 62 with 7:54 left when Holmes and reserve forward Clarence Ingram began to carry the Eagles on both ends of the court. A Holmes jumper and an Ingram layup gave the Eagles a 66-62 lead, and they never trailed again.

"Every game we've had somebody come off the bench," American Coach Ed Tapscott said. "Tonight it was Ingram, White and {Fred} Tillman."

Tillman, a freshman guard, did a good job shutting down Murphy after the junior forward scored 14 points during the Pirates' 42-25 run that gave them the brief lead.

The Eagles built their big lead by getting the ball inside to their frontcourt players and by dominating the rebounding in the first half, 21-9.

Another key to the Eagles' win was shutting down Pirates forward Gus Hill, who scored 11 points before fouling out.