GREENVILLE, N.C. – Tulsa jumped out to a double-digit lead in the first quarter Saturday afternoon and did not look back on the way to a 68-59 American Athletic Conference victory over East Carolina inside Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum.
The Pirates (5-10, 3-7 AAC) came up short in an attempt for their first victory since Dec. 22 while the Golden Hurricane (5-6, 4-6) won its second game in its last three tries.
Taniyah Thompson led the way for ECU with 13 points while Dominique Claytor and Sierra DaCosta netted 10 apiece. Ryann Evans added five points and a career-high 10 rebounds. As for the visitors, Rebecca Lescay exploded for 21 points and 14 rebounds.
Tulsa shot the ball at a 43-percent clip from the field while limiting the Pirates to 39-percent efficiency. East Carolina ended up with a 41-40 advantage in rebounding but turned the ball over 19 times while the Golden Hurricane committed just 13 miscues.
“That was one of the poorest efforts defensively that I’ve seen from us,” head coach Kim McNeill said. “Nobody on our team could guard the ball. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what defense you’re in. If you can’t guard the ball, it doesn’t matter. We let them have their way off the dribble.”
The teams got off to a hot start from the field, combining to hit 10 of their first 17 shots to leave Tulsa with a 12-10 lead at the 4:27 mark. The Golden Hurricane’s third triple of the quarter helped the visitors put together a 5-0 run before DaCosta ended it with a jumper as the shot clock expired. Tulsa began to pull away as the period expired as it ended up draining 10 of 14 attempts, including three treys, to build a 23-12 advantage.
ECU was able to slice the deficit to seven early in the second stanza at 23-16 following a steal and score by DaCosta, but the Golden Hurricane netted six of the next eight points to establish an 11-point cushion with 4:18 remaining in the half. DaCosta popped in consecutive threes to pull the Pirates within 29-24 at the 3:08 mark though Tulsa would net the final three points of the period to take an eight-point edge into the break.
DaCosta paced all scorers in the half with 10 points while Jessika Evans and Lescay tallied eight each for the Golden Hurricane. Tulsa out-shot East Carolina 44.4 percent to 39.3 percent while also holding the upper hand in the rebounding column to the tune of 19-15.
The Pirates came within seven thanks to a pullup jumper by Lashonda Monk three minutes into the third quarter. However, the Golden Hurricane was able to stretch its lead back to double digits. Try as it might, ECU was unable to seriously threaten down the stretch.
Up Next: East Carolina opens the month of February on the 6th with an American Athletic Conference contest at Memphis.