PirateIllustrated - ECU Gets 69-66 Win Over Tulsa Behind 19 From Kentrell Barkley
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ECU Gets 69-66 Win Over Tulsa Behind 19 From Kentrell Barkley

ECU's Kentrell Barkley drives on Tulsa's Junior Etou for two of his 19 points in a 69-66 victory.
ECU's Kentrell Barkley drives on Tulsa's Junior Etou for two of his 19 points in a 69-66 victory. (PirateIllustrated.com photo)

GREENVILLE, N.C. -East Carolina snapped a six game losing streak with a 69-66 victory over Tulsa Wednesday night in Minges Coliseum behind 19 points from Kentrell Barkley and twelve points from ever improving freshman guard Elijah Hughes.

Despite yielding nearly half of Tulsa’s points to Junior Etou who scored 31 points in the contest to go along with 12 boards, the Pirates played solid defense and kept all but Corey Henderson and Etou out of double-figures. Henderson tossed in 12 points but was held to 1 of 7 from the arc in the ECU win.

“The focus is always the same. We just came up short in a couple of games but tonight we just wanted to make sure that we executed our defense and stop them from doing what they’re good at,” Barkley said after the game, “We’ve just got to build on it and take that to the next opponent."

The Pirates hit just 27.3 percent in the first half but 50 percent shooting in the final twenty minutes helped dictate the affair along with a ten-rebound advantage. Three ECU players were in double-figures on the glass including Andre Washington who hauled down twelve rebounds to go along with eight points. Both Barkley and big Deng Riak pulled down eleven boards apiece for the Pirates.

Both teams shot well from the charity stripe with Tulsa hitting 22 of 29 for nearly 76 percent and ECU(10-11/2-6 AAC) connecting on 21 of 30 for 70 percent. ECU got 24 points in the paint in a game that had four lead changes all told.

“Certainly tonight was a special for our group. Obviously 2017 has not rewarded us with any wins so far so getting our first win in 2017 was really special,” said interim head coach Michael Perry, “As a coach there is no better feeling than hearing the sound in the locker room of your kids and the sound that they have was particularly well earned because they’ve gone through a lot of adversity."

The two teams traded baskets in the first nine minutes of the contest. Tulsa took as much as a five-point lead before ECU regained a 12-10 lead on a Kentrell Barkley transition layup.

East Carolina took a five-point 29-24 lead into the locker room at halftime behind nine points from Kentrell Barkley and six from Jeremy Sheppard. Junior Etou tossed in 13 points to go along with eight first half rebounds. Perry talked about what he said to his team in the locker room at intermission.

“That we’re halfway there. That it’s really zero-zero when we go out there even though we won that half by five points, we want to win the second half,” Perry told PirateIllustrated.com, “We also told them that Tulsa was going to make a run. That’s a championship program, they were an NCAA tournament team last year. But we’re going to be tough and we’re going to withstand the run and we are going to finish this game off."

The Pirates took a ten-point 39-29 lead in the first four minutes of the second half on three-pointers from Caleb White and Kentrell Barkley and a pair of Andre Washington free throws.

Baskets from Caleb White, Elijah Hughes and Deng Riak found the Pirates up by as much as eleven midway through the second period. But there Corey Henderson baskets kept the Golden Hurricane within striking distance at 63-55 with 4:28 to play.

Tulsa came roaring back late in the game behind a trifecta of three-point plays from Corey Henderson, Jaleel Wheeler and Junior Etau to close to within one at 67-66 with 1:02 on the game clock.

But Sterling Taplin’s fourth foul put Kentrell Barkley to the stripe where he hit both free throws with 20.5 seconds to go and three straight misses on Tulsa’s final possession and a rebound from Deng Riak ended the Tulsa threat.