East Carolina top Old Dominion 73-60 in the Myrtle Beach Invitational.
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East Carolina Beats ODU 73-60 in the Myrtle Beach Invitational

Tristen Newton and East Carolina improve to 4-1 with a 73-60 win over Old Dominion in the Myrtle Beach Invitational.
Tristen Newton and East Carolina improve to 4-1 with a 73-60 win over Old Dominion in the Myrtle Beach Invitational. (PirateIllustrated.com photo)

Tristen Newton heated up late, scoring eleven straight points at one point to turn a five point game into a 73-60 ECU win over Old Dominion Friday night in the consolation bracket of the Myrtle Beach Invitational in Conway, S.C.

Newton led the Pirates with 18 points including twelve straight points in the second half. ECU(4-1) also got 16 points and nine rebounds from 6-8 freshman Brandon Johnson and ten points from Brandon Suggs while Kalu Ezikpe led ODU with 16 points to go along with 12 from Charles Smith IV.

“It’s a tough thing as a coach because Tristen takes tough shots, but he can make tough shots. Good players can make tough shots. Early in the first half I thought he was a little sluggish” said ECU head coach Joe Dooley.

“He played thirty something minutes the other night so we know it was a quick turnaround last night, but I thought he got in there a little deeper. I don’t think people realize when you play against him that he’s 6-5. He’s a little bit taller and when he gets those guys underneath, he can get to a spot and turn and pivot and make a shot or he can fan it out of there and I thought he did some good things.”

ECU shot at a 54 percent rate from the floor including 8 for 16 from long range and 15-19 from the foul line in the victory while holding ODU to just 39 percent shooting and just 3 of 15 from the arc. Old Dominion did manage to get to the stripe where the Monarchs made 17 of their 23 attempts and out rebounded the Pirates 31-28.

The Pirates got off to a fast 11-4 start behind five early points from Vance Jackson before an A.J. Oliver ODU three-pointer and a pair of J.J. Hunter free throws tied the game for the Monarchs at 13-13.

“It was a good start, but we didn’t feel like we had a ton of pop. I understand a little bit. It was a quick turnaround and it was a physical, long game last night,” said Dooley, “We had the ball moving until we got in transition then we hit a little bit of a rut and sort of went brain dead for a little bit and allowed them to get right back in, but I thought we had some really good peaks and there’s a few valleys we have to eliminate and not have as steep a valley.”

Two Brandon Johnson baskets, a JJ Miles three from the left arc and an RJ Felton three-point bomb helped push the ECU lead back out to ten at 26-16 before opening up a 32-16 lead at the six minute mark before the intermission..

Johnson’s three-point play in the paint for ECU and his subsequent trey with 1:13 to go before halftime gave him his tenth point along with five rebounds and the Pirates led 41-29 lead at the half. Brandon Suggs also had eight at the break for an ECU team that shot 50 percent from the floor, 40 percent from the arc and 9 of 10 from the stripe in the first twenty minutes.

“He (Johnson) played really good. He got off to a bad start, we took him back out and he calmed down,” Dooley said, “He did some really good things, had some finishes around the rim, had a couple of really good defensive possessions where he walled up and stayed between his man and the basket."

"Those guys are beasts down there - 22 (Ezikpe) and 23 (Trice) are really really good. They create angles and did a really good job of sealing against our bigs.”

Austin Trice led ODU(2-3) with six points in the first twenty minutes. The Monarchs made just 37.5 percent of their first half shots including just 2 of 8 from three-point land to go along with 9-12 shooting from the stripe.

ODU trimmed a 14-point ECU lead to eight on baskets from Mekhi Long, Kalu Ezikpe and Charles Smith with 14:40 to play before a pair of Ezikpe free throws cut the lead to six.

The ECU lead remained at five when an R.J. Felton bomb from the right arc expanded the lead to eight before a Newton layup pushed the lead back to double-figures at 62-52 with 7:22 to play.

The Pirates expanded the lead to 71-56 with two minutes left and cruised the rest of the way.

East Carolina will take on Davidson in the fifth place game Sunday night at 6 p.m.

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