ECU got 17 points each from Kentrell Barkley, who also had a double-double with 14 rebounds, and Isaac Fleming who was playing with a chest cold Saturday night and the Pirates held off Delaware State for a 63-57 victory in Minges Coliseum.
The Pirates scored 34 of their points in the paint and despite hitting just 3 of 12 from the arc, ECU found a way to get to the charity stripe twice as often as the Hornets where they converted 16 free throws in the win.
“It was an ugly game obviously, but it’s great to be a part of an ugly game that results in a win,” ECU interim head coach Michael Perry said after the game, “We certainly have been a part of some ugly games that have resulted in a loss so it’s good to be on the winning side of those. Our guys are resilient and wanted to fight through and continue to make the plays to finish this off and that’s what we were seeing down the stretch of this game, finish.”
Anytime you win a ballgame hitting just forty percent from the floor, 64 percent from the free throw line and committing 17 turnovers you're doing something right.
“We know the win was ugly but at the end of the day it’s a win on the stat sheet. That’s the positive thing we take out of it. We just know that we’ve got to come out with a lot more energy,” Fleming said after the game, “I’m not going to blame me being sick for it but we’ve just got to find ways to come out with more energy.”
Artem Tavakalyan led Delaware State(2-7) with 20 points and eight boards. He got some help from Simon Okolue who managed to toss in 14 of his own. They were the only players in double-figures for the Hornets.
Two Barkley early three-point plays on a drive and a long trey keyed an early 10-2 start for the Pirates. Delaware State baskets from Artem Tavakalyan, Joseph Lewis and Simon Okolue kept the Hornets close in a 15-9 contest in the first eight minutes of play. Barkley talked about his increased level of assertiveness Saturday night.
“I guess staying patient and being a little more aggressive on the offensive end,” Barkley told PirateIllustrated.com afterward, “I know recently I haven’t really been that aggressive on offense, but my teammates did a good job of feeding me the ball and letting me attack off the dribble so that helped us out.”
The Pirates maintained a 19-11 cushion at the 7:53 mark on 6-11 Usman Haruna’s tomahawk dunk to go along with a Kentrell Barkley reverse layup. But a Tavakalyan basket gave the Delaware State their first lead of the game at 20-19 with just over four and a half minutes before halftime.
Ten first half points from Fleming and eight from Barkley found ECU(4-4) up by one point at halftime, 24-23.
The two teams were knotted at 38-38 midway into the second half before a 10-2 ECU run helped the Pirates open up a eight-point working margin at 48-40.
But four Simon Okolue points cut the Pirate lead to four. Then an ECU shot clock violation and Delaware State baskets from Jonathan Walker and Tavakalyan tied the game at 48-48.
ECU baskets from Shawn Williams and a Kentrell Barkley steal and dunk vaulted ECU into the lead by five with less than two minutes to go. A pair of Hornet free throws and a three point play from Tavakalyan cut the lead to three with a minute left to go.
Then after a missed one and one from Delaware State’s Pinky Wiley with 26 seconds left on the clock, ECU guard Shawn Williams canned a pair of free throws and big Jabari Craig managed to hit one of two free throws at the end to seal the ECU victory.
The Pirates scored 34 of their points in the lane and out rebounded the Hornets 51 to 33. Delaware State converted just 22 of their 61 shot attempts and only got to the free throw line eleven times, hitting eight of them.
The victory puts the Pirates on a winning streak of sorts with their second straight win after beating UNC-Wilmington 93-88 in overtime Thursday night on the heels of Jeff Lebo’s resignation as head coach. ECU has Campbell coming up on Monday night in Greenville.
“That’s good. It builds some momentum. Winning is always good for your locker room as well as for you psyche. Unfortunately we’ve got a really tough opponent coming up on a short amount of prep time and a very intricate offense that they run. It’s interesting because you have to kind of lose your principles you are accustomed to playing basketball with to play them,” Perry told PI.
“Their offense is designed to take advantage of conventional defensive principles so you have to kind of play different and that’s hard to prep for in a short period of time.”
After the game, PirateIllustrated.com was there to bring you the PI Postgame comments of ECU head coach Mike Perry in their entirety along with Kentrell Barkley and Isaac Fleming from Minges Coliseum. Catch that along with PI Premium Photos and final statistics from Saturday night’s Pirate victory.