ECU wins against Tulane
(Feb. 18, 2004)
For weeks, East Carolina has fought and scrapped with favored opponents only to come up short in the final minutes.
Things went right for a change Wednesday night.
Derrick Wiley scored 22 points to lift the Pirates past Tulane 76-66, snapping a five-game home losing streak. Belton Rivers added 16 points in the Pirates' first home win since beating Radford 87-50 on Dec. 30.
Erroyl Bing had 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Pirates (10-12, 2-10 Conference USA), who had lost 11 of 12 games. Moussa Badiane had nine points and six blocked shots.
During its home losing streak, East Carolina had lost games against UAB, Louisville, DePaul, Charlotte and Memphis by an average of six points per game. This time, the Pirates jumped to a double-digit lead, then got contributions from several players to hold off the Green Wave (10-12, 3-8).
'I want to say thank you to the fans for hanging in there with us,' Bing said. 'We've been knocking on the door and finally came through and finished one.'
The Pirates needed this win to have much hope of reaching the conference tournament. Twelve of the league's 14 teams qualify for next month's tournament, and the Pirates were in last place with just five games left in the regular season.
'We knew it was a must-win situation,' Pirates coach Bill Herrion said. 'We told the kids prior to the game, 'We've got a five-game season. Let's win five in a row, but you've got to win the first one.''
Ben Benfield scored 15 points for Tulane, which had its three-game conference winning streak snapped.
Neither team shot the ball particularly well, with Tulane shooting 41 percent and East Carolina 42 percent. But the Pirates helped themselves by going 22-for-32 from the line, including a 19-for-25 effort in the second half.
Tulane hit 10 of 19 free throws.
East Carolina led by as many as 14 points in the first half, but Tulane used several 3-point shots and better defense to slowly get back in the game. The Green Wave tied it twice in the second half, but never could push ahead.
Badiane turned Tulane away several times. The 6-foot-10, 215-pound junior swatted five shots in the first 12 1/2 minutes of the second half, two of which came on drives while his team held a one- or two-point lead.
'He changed so many shots that we started looking over our shoulders,' Tulane coach Shawn Finney said. 'It caused us a lot of problems offensively.'
Kory Castine's layup brought the Green Wave to 57-55 with 6:34 to play, but Rivers gave the Pirates some breathing room. The sophomore guard hit a drive along the left baseline, then followed with a 3 and three free throws after being fouled behind the arc for a 65-59 lead with 4:02 left.
Badiane's turnaround jumper in the lane pushed the lead to 67-59 with 3:17 left. The Green Wave got no closer than seven after that.
East Carolina got off to a quick start, using a 12-2 run to take a 22-12 lead. Wiley fueled the run, hitting a 3-pointer from the left side, a driving layup and a 3 from the right side on consecutive possessions.
The Pirates twice pushed the lead to 14 points, but the Green Wave closed the half with 11 straight points. Marcus Kinzer assisted on Chris Moore's 3 late then hit two of his own, the last bringing Tulane to within 38-35 at halftime.