East Carolina nips Coppin State at buzzer thanks to Newton bucket

ECU Pirates

GREENVILLE, N.C. – Sophomore Tristen Newton hit an off-balance jumper as time expired Saturday afternoon to lift East Carolina to a 70-68 victory over Coppin State inside Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum.

The Pirates (5-2) remained unbeaten at home this season, running their record in Greenville to 4-0. Meanwhile, the Eagles (1-9) lost their third-straight one-possession game.

While Newton was the eventual hero, sophomore Brandon Suggs put together quite the game of his own with a career-high 25 points to go along with three blocks. Newton ended up scoring 16 points and freshman RJ Felton notched double figures for the first time with 10. Additionally, Brandon Johnson fell just one rebound short of the freshman single-game record by pulling down 19 boards. Nendah Tarke paced Coppin State with 20 points and four assists.

ECU shot the ball at a 42.9-percent clip from the field, knocking down 27 of 63 attempts, while the Eagles finished at 39.3 percent (24 of 61). The Pirates won the rebounding battle by two at 39-37 and finished with 19 assists. East Carolina’s 15 offensive boards led to 23 second chance points.

Coppin State took a 5-0 lead nearly two minutes into the game, but ECU responded with a 9-4 run, capped by a Newton layup, to knot the score. With 11:45 to play before the half, Vance Jackson drained a three-pointer that gave the Pirates a 17-15 advantage they would not relinquish the rest of the period. A driving layup by Johnson at the 4:46 mark afforded East Carolina its largest lead of the initial stanza at 32-24 and Newton would have the last word, putting the Pirates up 40-31 with a pull-up jumper with 1:36 on the clock.

Suggs netted 15 points in the opening 20 minutes while Johnson grabbed a remarkable 14 rebounds. Tarke collected 11 points to lead his club. ECU built a 24-16 edge on the glass with eight offensive rebounds and shot the ball at 45.7-percent (16 of 35) efficiency from the floor. Coppin State connected on 12 of 32 for a 37.5-percent showing.

The Eagles made a quick run to open the second half, whittling the Pirate advantage down to 40-38 at the 16:56 mark. East Carolina would answer right back though, scoring 10 straight to establish a 12-point lead with 14:22 remaining in regulation.

The game of runs continued for much of the second frame until Coppin State managed to eventually tie the score at 66 with a driving layup by Tarke. ECU had the answer down the stretch as Newton grabbed a big defensive rebound with 26 seconds to go. He would keep the ball all the way down to the last, draining the winning bucket over a couple of Eagle defenders as the buzzer sounded.

Up Next: East Carolina hosts Old Dominion Tuesday, Nov. 30, in a rematch of their earlier meeting in Myrtle Beach. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Postgame Quotes
Head Coach Joe Dooley

Opening Statement:
“A number of things went well but there are a lot of things that also need to get fixed. Tristen made a great play. We were fortunate to win that game. The best defensive possession we had was that last one where we actually stayed in front of our man. We need to go in and fix some things before Old Dominion.”

On Brandon Johnson:
“His effort was terrific. We always talk about rebounding and need to fix that. Our first shot defense is good. It’s the second chance points we give up off offensive rebounds. We need to get it corrected quickly.”

On RJ Felton Playing More:
“J.J. Miles went down, so we needed him to step up and he did. We played small and inserted him into the lineup.”

On Newton as a Floor Leader and Focal Point of the Offense:
“He is feeling comfortable and has a knack for scoring, but the big thing is confidence. He missed his first free throw late and his confidence did not waver. He had to the confidence to shoot it at the end.”

On the Offensive Effort in the Second Half:
“We did better in the first half because we were making the right plays and extra passes. It slowed down in the second half and they were able to come back. They kept switching defenses. We need to be better to notice it and adjust to it.”

On Playing Close Games:
We’ve already had a lot of late-game situations. We had close games against Oklahoma and Davidson last week. Those are things you can’t really simulate. With how things change in an actual game, it is hard to simulate it. Also, with them switching defenses so much, we decided to let our guys play freely on that last possession.”

Sophomore Guard Tristen Newton

On his Game-Winning Drive:
“I missed that free throw at the end, but we got the stop. I grabbed the rebound and coach ran a play to get me downhill. I just tried to give us a chance.”

On Young Players Stepping Up:
“Brandon and RJ are our energy guys. One possession I think RJ had three-straight offensive rebounds. We know what they bring every night, but we all have to team rebound.”

Sophomore Guard/Forward Brandon Suggs

On his Career-High Performance:
“I was just making the right plays and cuts and my teammates found me.”

On Starting Slow in Both Halves:
“We are confident in ourselves making shots, so you just have to get over that, forget it and keep playing. Just keep shooting and they will fall.”

Copyright 2022 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

LKQD Outstream

Trending Stories