GREENVILLE, N.C. — Tulsa locked down East Carolina defensively in the final three minutes, ending the game on a 12-3 run, to hand the Pirates a 77-68 loss inside Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum on Saturday.
Brandon Rachal had 21 points and 10 rebounds as the Golden Hurricane (9-6, 6-4 American) snapped a three-game road losing steak and won its eighth straight over the Pirates.
After J.J. Miles made two free throws to tie the game with 3:19 to play, Darien Jackson scored five straight points to give TU a 70-65 lead with 1:25 to play. ECU (7-6, 1-6) pulled within four with 57 seconds remaining, but Elijah Joiner and Rachal each made a pair of free throws as the Golden Hurricane doubled its lead with 36 seconds on the clock
Rachal then added two more free throws to establish the final margin of nine.
The Golden Hurricane connected on 50 percent (24-of-48) from the floor, as five players scored in double figures. Rey Idowu had 16 points and eight rebounds, Austin Richie added 14, Joiner 11 and Jackson 10.
Tulsa made more free throws than the Pirates attempted and outscored them at the chairity stripe by 10, 23-13.
The Pirates trailed by two at intermission and then got down by seven at the outset of the second half, but used a 13-5 run to take its first lead of the half, 54-53, with 10:25 remaining. TU answered with a 6-0 spurt to go back ahead by five.
ECU retook at 63-61, but went just 1 of 9 down from the floor down the stretch, while Tulsa made 12 of 13 free throws.
Jayden Gardner had 26 points and eight rebounds for the Pirates. Tremont Robinson-White added 15 points and J.J. Miles had 13 points and a career-high six assists.
“Today what cost us was our defense. We scored enough points at home to win the game if you don’t put them on the free throw line and get a couple of timely stops. We had 21 assists on 25 field goal. We did some some good things. Were there some possessions that were off kilter, yes but I thought it was our defense on a lot of things that we know how to guard that we’ve got to clean up quickly.” – ECU Head Coach Joe Dooley
“”It’s very frustrating. We’ve got to figure out how to win. We’ve got to be able to execute down the stretch, listen better and execute better in the Xs and Os and we weren’t able to do that tonight. We had really struggled in the zone in the past and in practice just working on it. We moved the ball very well. Unfortunately, we didn’t get enough stops tonight.” – Junior Jayden Gardner
Coach Dooley returned to the sidelines for the first time since Jan.9 due to COVID-19 protocol restrictions. He had missed the previous two games.
The Pirates’ 35 first half points were its most since scoring 40 against North Florida on Dec, 7, 2020.
ECU posted its second-best first-half shooting performance of the season (51.9 percent). It’s best opening half shooting display was against Charlotte in the season opener (53.6 percent).
Gardner moved into 15th place on The American’s all-time scoring list with 1,337 points.
Robinson-White scored double figures for the fourth consecutive game, setting a new career-long streak.
Miles scored double figures for the first time in 29 days (11 at Tulane, Jan. 2, 2021) and fifth time overall this season.