From wire and staff reports
GREENVILLE, N.C. — Jayden Gardner had 27 points and 13 rebounds and J.J. Miles scored 21 points on sevens 3s as East Carolina defeated Tulane 81-62 on Saturday night to snap a three-game losing streak.
Tristen Newton had 13 points, seven rebounds and six assists for the Pirates (9-11, 3-4 American Athletic Conference).
East Carolina scored the game’s first six points and never looked back, building a double-digit lead in the first six minutes. Tulane (10-9, 2-5) cut the Pirates’ lead to six at 13-7, but ECU constructed a 21-4 run over the next 5:40 to seize control and led 40-10 at the break.
ECU held Tulane to 28.3 percent shooting in the first half and forced 10 turnovers, while it made 5 of 10 3s and shot 46.2 percent overall.
The Green Wave made a run at the Pirates at the start of the second half, trimming 10 points of ECU’s 21-point halftime lead. Nic Thomas buried a 3 to cap a 7-0 spurt and bring Tulane within 11, 46-35, with 13:31 to play.
ECU Head Coach Joe Dooley called timeout and his team responded by pushing its lead back to 20 as Bitumba Baruti completed a 17-8 run with a dunk with less than eight minutes remaining.
Thomas had 19 points to lead the Green Wave. Christion Thompson added 14 points and 13 rebounds. Teshaun Hightower had 12 points.
ECU held Tulane to just 36.7 percent shooting for the game and finished at 52.0 percent itself, sinking 10 of 19 (.526) 3-point attempts.
The Pirates return to action Wednesday, Jan. 29, against 25th-ranked Houston. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. inside Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum.
- The Pirates won their fourth consecutive game against Tulane and improved to 14-14 all-time against the Green Wave. ECU has won seven of the last eight meetings in the series. The 19-point margin of victory was the largest by the Pirates in series history.
- ECU used its 12th different starting lineup of the season with Tristen Newton making his first start with the foursome of Tremont Robinson-White, Brandon Suggs, Charles Coleman and Jayden Gardner.
- Gardner became the third-fastest player in school to score 900 career points, reaching the mark in 51 games. He has 923 points in his career.
- Gardner posted his ninth double-double of the season and 19th of his career, tying him for seventh all-time in school history. It was Gardner’s eighth game this season with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds.
- Junior J.J. Miles made a career-high seven 3-pointers, besting his previous high of three on two occasions. That was the most 3s made in a game by an ECU player since Caleb White made seven against UConn on March 1, 2017.
- Newton scored double figures for the second straight game and third time in the last five games and seventh time overall.
- The Pirates posted their second-largest halftime lead in an American Athletic Conference game, 21 points. They led USF by 26 (44-18) on Jan. 17, 2018.
- ECU’s 21-point halftime lead was its largest since leading UMES by 21 (42-21) last season (Dec. 2, 2018).
- The Pirates’ 40 first-half points were the most they scored before halftime this season.
- ECU handed out a season-high 22 assists on 26 made field goals.
East Carolina Head Coach Joe Dooley Opening statement “I thought our defense got us off to a good start, then obviously when you make some shots you get a little bit more confidence. I thought with the exception of the first five or six minutes of the second half, I thought we actually played pretty well and did some good things. We were a little lethargic to come out after the half, but I thought that our energy in the first half and our defense really sort of set the tone for us and gave us a little bit of confidence to get going.”
On the fluidity of the offense “We had 22 assists on 26 field goals. I thought the guys tried to share it and move it. I thought we moved more freely tonight and looked a little bit more coherent offensively.”
On Tulane’s second-half run“I don’t care how much you’re up, until the clock run’s out, you’re worried about everything. I thought we responded. You know they’re going to make a run; you’re just hoping you can answer it a little bit quicker.”
Sophomore Jayden Gardner On the team’s overall performance “Having the lead in the first half helped to get the crowd more into the game early and stay in the game throughout the whole game. It built up our confidence. Every shot we took seemed to be going in and it helped build up our confidence for defense.”
On JJ Miles’ shooting performance “It’s big-time. I love when he’s making shots. It makes my assist totals go up. JJ is a great shooter. He’s just going to keep getting better and more confidence, and he’s going to keep being big-time for this program.”
Junior J.J. Miles On having the hot hand “It was just a good game, a good shooting night for me. Seeing the first couple go in really gave me confidence and my teammates were able to find me when I was open.”