TULSA — East Carolina answered Tulsa's second-half run and outscored the Hurricane 14-7 in the final five minutes to claim a 72-63 victory on Wednesday night at the Donald W. Reynolds Center.
The victory snapped an eight-game losing streak for the Pirates against the Hurricane. Tulsa dropped to 14-12 overall and 6-6, while East Carolina improved to 15-10 and 6-6. The Hurricane trailed by as many as 14 points in the first half, and led by five points twice in the second half. Tulsa's poor free throw shooting, only converting six of 19, on the night helped seal Tulsa's fate.
"East Carolina came out and threw the first punch and we didn't recover too well. They were more aggressive than us in the first half and we were able to go on a little bit of the run and get within striking distance at halftime," said Tulsa Head Coach Danny Manning. "We came back out in the second half and we went on a run, and it becomes a nip and tuck game. Then Akeem Richmond shakes loose for two threes back-to-back and that put us behind the eight-ball and we weren't able to get back from that. I have to give East Carolina credit to come in and get a road win but for us this was a game we really wanted. We're in a dog fight in the conference standings and it would have been nice to have the tie-breaker with East Carolina."
Senior Scottie Haralson led the Tulsa attack with 20 points, nine rebounds and five assists in 36 minutes. The Pirates were led by Maurice Kemp's 23 points, while 6'3" guard Paris Kemp had a team-best nine rebounds and 6'1" guard Miguel Paul had a game-high 10 assists.
Tulsa came out of halftime and scored the first four points and tied the score at 38-38 with just 2:03 gone in the second half. Tulsa took its first lead since early in the game at the 13:23 mark as Pat Swilling's three-pointer put the Hurricane ahead 43-42. After exchanging the lead four times, Shaquille Harrison's layup with 10:35 remaining put Tulsa ahead 49-46, equaling Tulsa's biggest lead since a 3-0 start. Swilling's fast-break layup made the score 51-46 with 10:04 on the game clock.