East Carolina’s road struggles continued Wednesday as the Pirates (11-15, 4-9 American Athletic Conference) dropped a 69-58 decision to Tulsa (18-7, 11-2 AAC) for their second loss to the Golden Hurricane this season.
ECU’s got offensive production from its usual suspects in Terry Whisnant, Caleb White and B.J. Tyson. Each of them scored in double digits and combined for 42 points, which made up almost three quarters of the team’s offense.
Head coach Jeff Lebo looked to 6-foot-7 forward Keith Armstrong to help shut down Tulsa inside. After averaging just two minutes per appearance, the junior out of Raleigh played 18 minutes. He had three rebounds, two blocks, a pair of turnovers and missed all three of his attempts from the field.
Michel Nzege and Michael Zangari also made up the majority of ECU’s presence down low. They tried to make up for the offense Armstrong didn’t bring, but could only muster seven points. As a team, the Pirates only found 14 points in the paint and allowed Tulsa to collect 30 points there.
ECU opened the scoring when Antonio Robinson hit an open chance from long range. The Pirates kept it close and a trey from Whisnant gave them a one-point lead with 14:28 to play. Tulsa would go on to score 25 points after that while ECU would only find another eight. James Woodard led the effort for Tulsa with 11 points. He made both his long-range attempts in the first 20 minutes.
Brandon Swannegan added another nine points in the half for Tulsa and total of 16 in the game. His work down low earned him his 22 minutes, which was the third-most time he’s played this season.
Tulsa dominated much of the second half, too. Rashad Ray got a defensive rebound and, on the other side of the court, put up a layup to give the Golden Hurricane a 21-point lead—its largest of the game—with 8:22 to play.
That massive lead held, too. Tulsa was up 65-45 with less than five minutes to go. ECU made a comeback effort, highlighted by six points from Tyson, but wouldn’t be able to close the double-digit gap.
ECU’s home stretch begins when the Pirates return home to host USF on Saturday. That game will be one of three among their last five they play at home.