Tulsa (12-12, 7-3 Conference-USA) continued its home dominance Thursday with a commanding 76-58 win over East Carolina (13-12, 2-8 C-USA). The Pirates hit the road hoping to build on the momentum of last Saturday’s win against UTSA, but came up short.
To no surprise, James Woodard led the Golden Hurricane’s offensive effort. He entered the game leading them in scoring with 14.4 points a game. What was shocking was his explosive night that finished with 21 points, seven rebounds and two assists.
Paris Roberts-Campbell led the Pirates with 17 points. He also had three boards and dished out four assists. Akeem Richmond seemed to be en route to a double-double when he finished the first half with eight points and four rebounds, but he finished with only 14 points and six boards.
Tulsa’s been rolling since entering conference play. Prior to this contest, the Golden Hurricane had been averaging 74.3 points per conference game, which is good enough for second best in the league. On top of that, Tulsa’s defense had been holding opponents to 40.2 percent shooting. ECU finished 38.9 percent from the field.
The Pirates had last year’s C-USA quarterfinal game in the back of their minds heading into the game. Tulsa claimed the 79-72 victory with a 16-7 run in the final three minutes. Woodard missed a free throw and nabbed the offensive rebound, which allowed Pat Swilling to hit the three that set in motion a 10-0 run ECU wouldn’t recover from.
ECU jumped to an early lead and maintained it throughout much of the first half. Antonio Robinson dished the ball to Roberts-Campbell for a trey that put the Pirates up 20-12 with 8:46 to play in the first half.
Tulsa then went on a 21-7 run to head into halftime with a four-point lead. Brandon Swannegan dunked the ball with 37 seconds left—effectively killing whatever momentum the Pirates still had.
The Pirates responded at the beginning of the second half, though. Antonio Robinson got a basket on their first possession. Caleb White and Roberts-Campbell followed up with threes to tie the game at 37-37 with 17:44 to go in the game.
The game remained close for the first 10 minutes of the second half before Tulsa pulled away. The Golden Hurricane scored five points in 10 seconds before forcing the Pirates to call a timeout.
They didn’t recover. Tulsa scored 25 points in the final 10 minutes and held ECU to only 13.
The Pirates will hope to bounce back and come back to Greenville with a win on this road trip. They’ll be in UNT Coliseum Saturday to take on North Texas. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m.