Senior guard B.J. Tyson launched in a career high 30 points to lead four ECU players in double-figures in a 93-88 overtime win over UNC-Wilmington Thursday night in Minges Coliseum.
Isaac Fleming added 21 for ECU while Shawn Williams had 15 points and Dimitri Spasojevic scored 10 for the 3-4 Pirates. Kentrell Barkley added 9 to go along with 8 points and 14 rebounds from Jabari Craig in the victory.
ECU got the win despite yielding a game-high 35 points from Devontae Cacok in the paint who put on a show leading three Seahawks in double-figures on the evening.
“Well I hear it was a pretty tremendous basketball game. It was pretty hard to tell when you’re sitting on the sidelines, but everybody tells me that it was a heck of a game,” said ECU head coach Michael Perry who was coaching in his first game after the resignation of Jeff Lebo on Wednesday, “During the course of the game it was obviously really intense and I’m really proud of our kids. They showed a lot of character.”
“I was telling our athletic director that there is a lot more character in that locker room than a lot of people realize. They’re really resilient. They bend but they don’t break but now they have to continue to believe in themselves," Perry said "This goes a long way for them to solidify that type of attitude and character to be able to bounce back from being down. It showed a lot of grit and toughness that we needed and really energized the arena. When this place gets rocking man, it’s a great college atmosphere.”
Tyson put his young Pirates on his back and turned his game up about two notches Thursday night. He talked about why after the game.
“I was dedicating this game to Coach Lebo and I want him to know that and the rest of the guys feel the same way,” Tyson said afterwards, “I wanted to go out and give it my all for these two guys right here (Isaac Fleming and Kentrell Barkley) and the rest of the team stood beside me and did the same thing.”
Wilmington jumped out to an early 10-0 lead on the strength of a Ty Taylor basket inside and a pair of Jalen Fornes three-point bombs. But Isaac Fleming scored three straight times to help ECU close to 15-12 with 13:30 in the half. B.J.Tyson’s bomb and subsequent Tyson jump shot on the next possession tied the game at 14-14.
Wilmington maintained a 31-26 lead with 7:30 in the first period before a three-point play from Tyson and a Kentrell Barkley steal that led to a dunk at the other end tied the game at 26. Then a Dimitri Spasojevic jumper gave ECU a brief two-point lead.
Dimitri Spasojevic’s turn around jumper in the lane for the Pirates along with Tyson’s game first half high 16th point on a baseline jumper gave ECU a six-point 48-42 lead as time expired in the first half.
Shawn Williams and Isaac Fleming scored nine points while Dimitri Spasojevic added eight for ECU that scored 24 of their first half points in the paint. UNC-W didn't help their own cause with nine turnovers by intermission.
Spasojevic’s breakaway layup helped the Pirates hold an early 50-44 lead in the second frame. ECU held onto that six-point lead at 58-52 at the fourteen minute mark. Then Isaac Fleming’s left hand drive had the Pirates up by seven with just under ten minutes to play.
But a Devontae Cacok basket cut the Pirate lead to two at 69-67 with 6:37 to go and Jay Estime’s three-pointer gave the lead back to the Seahawks. Marcus Bryan added a bucket to put UNC-W up 72 to 69.
Then Barkley’s fast break reverse layup tied the game at 74-74 and Issac Fleming gave ECU the lead back on a drive with 2:20 in regulation. Tyson’s drive with forty seconds to play allowed ECU to keep a one-point lead but Isaac Fleming's charging foul and a Cacok basket at the other end put UNC-W back up by a point.
B.J. Tyson was fouled with 6.1 seconds to play where he hit the second of two free throws to tie the game at 79-79 and Jordan Talley’s long bomb for the Seahawks missed as time expired to send the game into overtime.
Two Isaac Fleming drives had ECU up by three with two minutes to go in overtime then a pair of B.J. Tyson free throws extended the Pirate lead to five with 2:20 to play. But Cacok’s 35th point of the game highlighted a Seahawk rally that grew the UNC-W lead to three before a Tyson circus shot in the lane and a UNC-W turnover gave ECU the ball with 1:22 to play and a five-point 90-85 lead.
After Shawn Williams was fouled, he made one of two from the stripe for ECU, but Jordan Tally’s three-point bomb for the Seahawks trimmed the Pirate lead to three with 22 seconds to go in overtime. Then B.J. Tyson was fouled with 21.6 seconds to play and hit one of two from the stripe to give ECU a three-point working margin.
Fleming fouled out at the other end of the floor which put Ty Taylor on the charity stripe where he missed the front end of a UNC-W one-and-one and Marcus Bryan fouled Tyson who grabbed the ball for ECU. He then hit one of two free throws to ice the contest at 93-88.
“It was a hard fought basketball game and it came down to one possession,” said Wilmington coach C.B. McGrath, “Overtimes usually mean one possession here or there being the difference in the basketball game. Unfortunately for us, ECU made the plays in overtime. They made the shots, they got a basket and made their free throws when they had to. I’m proud of our guys’ effort.”
“Every time we ran our stuff through I thought we got some good looks. When we settled we didn’t get as good a shot as we wanted to. Obviously we were trying to get the ball to Devontae as much as possible,” McGrath said, “16 for 19 from the field is pretty darn impressive. Coming in, people knew what we wanted to do too, so he had a heck of a basketball game. Like I said, in a one possession basketball game it’s UNC-W’s fault that we lost that basketball game.”
The Pirates scored 50 of their points in the paint to 48 for the Seahawks who got 13 second chance points in a game where both teams hit about 47 percent from the floor. ECU went 5 of 19 from three-point land to 8 of 22 for Wilmington.
ECU got to the charity stripe a little more often than Wilmington and managed to connect on 74 percent of their 27 attempts which proved big in the end. The Seahawks hit just 10 of 17 from the foul line for 59 percent.
The Pirates return to action this Saturday night when they host Delaware State in non-conference action. Tipoff is set for 5 p.m in Williams Arena @ Minges Coliseum.
PirateIllustrated.com was there to bring you PI POST GAME with Coaches Michael Perry and C.B. McGrath along with ECU’s Kentrell Barkley, Isaac Fleming and B.J. Tyson. That along with PI Premium Photos and game statistics.