"I knew it was a team that could beat us," head coach John Moon said. "In the first half we flat out didn't come to play. We were as bad in the first half as we've been all year, though they had a lot to do with that."
Eastern trailed 43-33 at the break, due to defensive lapses and some stagnant moments on the offensive end -- and because Curry had only 13 points by halftime (5-12 fg).
"I think it was a wake up call," Moon said. "We were ready to play, but obviously weren't in the first half."
An improved defensive effort fueled a 10-2 Eastern run to tie the game at 49-49 late in the third quarter, and after the teams exchanged a number of baskets, Tunstall pulled ahead for a 68-62 advantage with 2:46 left after a block of a Curry drive led to a breakaway score.
And as has always been the case with Curry, he answered right back, attacking the hoop for a three-point play and hitting a big three two posessions later to give Eastern a 70-68 lead at the 1:34 mark.
"We don't expect anything different out of JamesOn," Moon said.
Tunstall was called with a charge moments later and Eastern found themselves up two with the ball.
While Curry is the leader and go-to-guy in the clutch for Eastern, their success (or in this case, lack thereof) is often dictated by the performance of the supporting cast. The Eastern inbounds pass was fumbled out of bounds. A foul on the other end gave Tunstall two free throws which tied the game at 70-70.
Eastern ran the clock down for almost a full minute, planning to get the last shot, but as Curry tried to jump through a triple-team to make a pass the ball along the sidelines, it was deflected and Tunstall recovered the ball and called a quick timeout.
Tunstall escaped the full-court man defense and banked in an eight-foot runner with 3.0 seconds remaining.
It was the following inbounds from under the opposing basket that put the ball in Curry's hands at half-court, with his desperation attempt falling short.
"They made a play in the end and we had a shot at the end and it was fairly close but didn't go in. We deserved to get beat and we got beat," Moon said.
Curry's final stat line read 31 points (11-26 fg, 4-11 3pt), five assists, seven rebounds, five steals and three turnovers.
Eastern has consolation play in Danville on Saturday and Monday and will then head to Raleigh for a Tuesday afternoon game in the GlaxoSmithKline Holiday Invitational at Reynolds Coliseum.