Tulane Celebrates Senior Day, Defeats ECU 77-71

The win came in a make-or-break game for Tulane (10-17, 4-12 C-USA). The victory lifted the Green Wave into next week's Conference USA Tournament; it will be the 12 seed and play fifth-seeded DePaul on Wednesday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. The game will be televised nationally by ESPN2

NEW ORLEANS, La. – Tulane followed the common practice of starting its seniors on Senior Day. However, fifth-year senior Ivan Pjevcevic decided that just starting the game was not enough for him. The Belgrade, Serbia, product exploded for a career-high 24 points, surpassing his previous season-best by 11 to lead the Green Wave to a key 77-71 victory over East Carolina in Conference USA men's basketball action on Saturday evening at Fogelman Arena.

The win came in a make-or-break game for Tulane (10-17, 4-12 C-USA). The victory lifted the Green Wave into next week's Conference USA Tournament; it will be the 12 seed and play fifth-seeded DePaul on Wednesday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. The game will be televised nationally by ESPN2.

"We broke it down into hours, our season only had so many hours left," Tulane coach Shawn Finney said. "This basketball game and our classes were our only focus. We treated it like a playoff game, you win, you move on."

The loss knocks East Carolina (9-19, 4-12 C-USA) out of the conference tourney.

After building leads as large as 20 early in the game, the Green Wave had to scrap to hold on for the victory. The Pirates pulled within three at 71-68 on a layup by Corey Rouse with 1:32 to go. After a Green Wave miss, ECI missed a pair of free throws and Chris Moore rebounded for the Wave with under a minute to go. A miss by freshman Taylor Rochestie was rebounded by Quincy Davis, just the Wave's third offensive rebound of the game, and Davis scored on the putback for a 73-68 advantage with 36 clicks remaining.

Tulane forced another ECU miss, but the Pirates, who dominated the glass all night long, snared their 24th offensive rebound and Rouse was fouled. He hit one-of-two foul shots and Kory castine rebounded for the Wave and found Rochestie who was fouled immediately. The freshman hit both free throws for a 75-69 advantage with 24.2 on the clock.

After a 19-footer by ECU, senior Marcus Kinzer clinched the Senior Day victory with a pair of foul shots of his own for the 77-71 victory.

"You have to give them credit, they were fighting for the same thing we were," Finney said. "We got tentative against their zone and we started playing not to lose and they took advantage of that."

Included in Pjevcevic's 24 points were six three-pointers, tied for second all-time at Tulane. Rochestie was the only other player in double figures with 12 points, while adding seven assists and five rebounds. Kinzer scored eight points with a game-high eight assists.

"We need multiple guys playing well for us to win," Finney said. "It doesn't mean everyone has to score 18 points, but you have to make the right passes, get the key rebounds and do the little things. It takes a total team effort."

In a measure of team effort, all 10 players who saw action scored points, Tulane was out-rebounded 48-30 in the game. However the Green Wave shot 50 percent (26-of-52) from the field while holding East Carolina to 37.1 percent (26-of-70) shooting. The Wave, which has been excellent from the line all season, buried 16-of-18 free throws while the Pirates hit just 15-of-25 shots from the line.

"Free throws are always key for every team," Finney said. "We have been shooting them well all year and tonight we needed every one of them."

Tulane jumped out early, as Pjevcevic opened the scoring with a three-pointer from the top of the key. With the score tied at five, Tulane's three seniors, Benfield, Pjevcevic, and Kinzer, all hit consecutive threes to give the Wave a 17-7 advantage. At halftime, Tulane held a 40-28 halftime edge.

"I was excited with the way we came out, we were focused and intense," Finney said. "Give our seniors credit. Ivan got us going early; I am really happy for him, that's the guy we've been missing these last few seasons. He's a great kid and I've loved coaching him for five years."

Back-to-back threes from Pjevcevic and Ben Benfield keyed a 10-0 run by the Wave early in the second half as it built a 50-30 advantage. However, ECU answered back with a 10-0 run of its own and it was 52-42 with 12:01 to go. The Pirates continued to battle back until Rouse's layup made it a three-point game with 1:32 to go.

Statistically, Tulane had two key factors in its favor as the Green Wave scored 70 points and held its opponent below 40 percent from the field. In Finney's five years at the helm of the program, the Wave is 50-19 when it scored 70 or more points and 31-10 when holding its foes below 40 percent shooting.


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