ECU men edge ODU, 63-62

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GREENVILLE, N.C. – East Carolina held tight defensively in the final seconds of Tuesday night’s non-conference bout with Old Dominion, scoring a 63-62 victory inside Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum.

The Pirates (6-2) earned the season sweep of the Monarchs (3-5) after picking up a 73-60 win just 11 days ago at the Myrtle Beach Invitational. East Carolina also remained unbeaten at home this campaign (5-0).

“They made some plays and we had some untimely defensive lapses that we have to clean up,” head coach Joe Dooley said. “I thought we did a good job in some stretches, but we have to learn to play with a lead.”

Vance Jackson lit up the scoreboard, knocking down six three-point field goals to end his evening with a season-high 21 points. Brandon Suggs also put in a solid effort, netting 14 points and a team-high eight rebounds. Tristen Newton secured his 11th-straight game with double-digit points, scoring 13 and dishing out a career-best matching eight assists. Kalu Ezikpe notched 12 points and eight rebounds for the visitors while C.J. Keyser led ODU with 19 points.

“Vance was solid defensively,” Dooley said. “We turned it over way too much but he did some good things. He shot the ball well, was poised and made some really good passes.”

Both teams connected on 22 field goals as the Monarchs ended up shooting 42.3 percent as compared to the Pirates’ 39.3-percent output. Old Dominion also won the rebounding battle by a 37-31 margin and out-scored ECU 34-12 in the paint. The Pirates’ 12 offensive rebounds led to a 12-7 advantage in second-chance points. East Carolina hit 15 three-pointers in the contest, marking the most in a single game since it collected 16 against South Carolina State back on Dec. 22, 2015, in a 98-71 victory.

The Pirates fell behind 10-4 about five minutes into the proceedings after an Austin Trice jumper. ODU’s lead grew to 12-5 before RJ Felton hit two of ECU’s next three triples to propel the Pirates in front 14-12 at the 11:20 mark.

East Carolina’s three-point barrage continued as Jackson was true from deep to make the score 23-14 with 8:44 to play in the opening stanza. The Monarchs were able to slice the deficit down to one at 25-24 with time winding down, but two-straight threes by Jackson opened the advantage back up to seven. The Pirates’ 11th triple of the half made the score 39-30 at the 1:30 mark and that would be the margin at the break.

ECU recorded its single-game season high for three-point field goals in the first half alone, shooting 73 percent from beyond the arc. The Pirates also put together a 17-14 lead in the rebounding column. Jackson paced all scorers with 15 points in the initial 20 minutes while Keyser tallied 12 for Old Dominion.

Yet another triple by Jackson pushed East Carolina’s advantage to 46-36 early in the second frame. The Monarchs battled back a couple of times but could not whittle their deficit under four until the closing minutes. Brandon Johnson dropped in a jumper to give the Pirates a 58-49 edge with 5:46 to play in regulation before Old Dominion used an 11-3 run down to the 2:05 mark to trail by just one.

Keyser completed the comeback, stepping back and nailing a jumper to put the Monarchs on top 62-61 with under a minute left.

Suggs answered right back with what would be the eventual game-winning shot, scoring a layup with 34 seconds to go. ECU had a couple of chances to salt the game away at the free-throw line but could not convert as ODU gained one last possession with four seconds remaining. Jaylin Hunter attempted a length of the floor pass from the opposite baseline and threw it right to Johnson who was immediately fouled after the steal. The freshman missed the ensuing free throw, but the Monarchs could manage just one last desperate attempt from about 65 feet away that fell well short as time expired.

Up Next
East Carolina hosts Gardner-Webb Saturday, Dec. 4 at 3 p.m. in what is a doubleheader with the Pirate women’s team who entertains Towson at Noon.

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