MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Memphis broke open a close game in the second half on the way to a 71-54 American Athletic Conference victory over East Carolina Thursday night inside FedExForum.
The Pirates (11-8, 2-5 AAC) came up short in an attempt for their first road win of the campaign while the Tigers (11-8, 5-4 AAC) won their second straight in league play.
Tristen Newton led all scorers with 19 points and pulled down four rebounds. Vance Jackson was one point shy of a double-double, posting nine points and 12 rebounds. Lester Quinones notched a team-high 17 points for Memphis while Josh Minott recorded a double-double of 13 points and 12 rebounds.
The Tigers shot the ball at a 42.1-percent clip from the floor, knocking down 24 of 57 attempts, while ECU finished at 26.4 percent (19 of 72). Memphis won the rebounding battle 53-42 and received 29 points off its bench.
Memphis put together an 11-0 run, capped off by an Emoni Bates triple, early in the opening half to build a 15-5 cushion at the 13:21 mark. East Carolina answered with a scoring spurt of its own, using a RJ Felton old-fashioned three-point play to slice the deficit to 20-16 with 7:49 to play in the stanza. The teams traded runs as the half wound down as the Pirates ended the period scoring eight of the last nine points to head to the intermission trailing 28-24.
Newton hit a trio of three-pointers to lead all scorers with nine points in the opening 20 minutes while Quinones paced the home side with six. The Tigers outrebounded ECU 34-22 and limited the Pirates to 25-percent shooting (10 of 40) from the floor while firing at a 30.3-percent (10 of 33) clip itself.
A three by Miles tied things up at 32 about four minutes into the second half, but Memphis created some separation with a 13-4 run that put the Tigers up by nine at the midway point. East Carolina could come no closer than eight as Memphis pulled away in the end.