GREENVILLE, N.C. – East Carolina completed its 2021-22 home season Saturday evening with a 64-59 American Athletic Conference victory over Tulsa inside Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum.
The Pirates (15-13, 6-10 AAC) put the finishing touches on a season series sweep of the Golden Hurricane (9-18, 3-13 AAC) and have guaranteed themselves a winning record in the regular season for the first time since 2013-14. ECU also matched its most league victories since joining the American Conference prior to the 2014-15 campaign.
“We were pretty bad defensively in the first half, but got it ratcheted up late in the game,” head coach Joe Dooley said. “We made some stops which allowed us to get out in transition.”
Tristen Newton capped his final home appearance of the season with a 27-point effort and recorded a game-high five assists. Vance Jackson added 12 points while Ludgy Debaut pulled down seven rebounds (four offensive). Darien Jackson paced Tulsa with 17 points and three assists.
After shooting 68.4 percent in the first half, the Golden Hurricane cooled off considerably in the second stanza – hitting just six of 24 (25 percent). East Carolina finished the night firing at a 38.2-percent clip, draining 21 of 55 from the field. Tulsa won the rebounding battle by a 35-26 margin but turned the ball over 20 times which allowed the Pirates to score 23 points off those miscues.
Back-to-back threes by J.J. Miles and Jackson afforded ECU an early 10-4 cushion, but the Golden Hurricane fought back and eventually grabbed a 25-22 advantage on a triple by Curtis Haywood II. Tulsa led by as much as eight, 35-27, with 3:08 remaining in the half. However, the Pirates ended the period on a 7-1 run to cut the Golden Hurricane upper hand to two at the break.
Newton had quite the opening 20 minutes, scoring 17 points and hitting all three of his three-point field goal attempts. East Carolina also took good care of the ball, turning it over just five times as compared to Tulsa’s 12.
The teams traded the lead back and forth in the first few minutes of the second half before the Golden Hurricane crept ahead 47-44 at the 10:06 mark following a pair of free throws by Jeriah Horne. The game-defining run occurred over the next five minutes as ECU outscored the visitors 12-3 to propel in front 56-50 with 5:25 to play. Tulsa cut its deficit to one in the final minute, but Newton hit a clutch floater in the paint to give the Pirates a 62-59 edge with five seconds remaining. The Pirates did not allow the Golden Hurricane to score again, and Alexis Reyes drained a pair at the line to provide the final margin.
Up Next: East Carolina wraps up the regular season March 5 at Wichita State.