TULSA, Ok. - Road wins never easy to come by and for ECU, this one came at a good time as the Pirates fought their way to a 72-63 victory over Tulsa Wednesday night in Conference USA play.
Maurice Kemp tossed in 23 for the Pirates to go along with six rebounds while Akeem Richmond hit five treys for 17 points. Ty Armstrong had 13 points and 8 boards and Paris Roberts-Campbell chipped in with 10 on the strength of ten Miguel Paul assists.
Scottie Haralson led Tulsa with 20 points and 11 boards while Kauri Black had 13 and Pat Swilling, Jr. contributed with 11 for Tulsa.
"I thought Kemp going 9 of 14 was awfully consistent tonight and Richmond hitting some jump shots in the second half helped a lot too," said ECU head coach Jeff Lebo.
Lebo talked about the nature of this road game in Tulsa and how it worked out.
"It was a wierd game a lot of momentum changes we got off to a good start and had a nice lead. We have a hard time finishing out halves and games. We got a tough call against Maurice Kemp. It was the correct call we go from having the ball to them having the ball and getting free throws for a four point play. I saw the same thing the other night in the Ole Miss game," said Lebo, "I'm proud of my group we got down by six in the second half. Akeem Richmond stepped up and Kemp hit some big shots. We played tough enough here on the road, looking back in the series, we've never won here. We'll cherish this win, wake up tomorrow check out the film and head to Dallas."
Opposing coaches Jeff Lebo and Tulsa's Danny Manning were teammates on the 1987 USA Men's Pan Am Team coached by Denny Crum, the Americans picked up the silver medal that year, losing to Brazil in the gold medal game. Tonight they were on opposite ends of the court for ECU - Tulsa at the Donald Reynolds Center.
The Pirates got off to an unusually fast start, 19-10, on the strength of a Maurice Kemp dunk and three Paris Roberts-Campbell free throws on a Tulsa foul during a three-point shot attempt.
Kemp scored again on a runner, Akeem Richmond tossed in a pair of bombs and Ty Armstrong did a little damage in the paint as ECU took a 31-17 with 4:14 to go in the first half.
Brandon Swannegon's jumper pulled Tulsa to 31-19 at the four minute mark, but Kemp's second trey of the first half extended the ECU lead to 34-20.
Scottie Haralson nailed a basket for his tenth point of the half for Tulsa to close to eleven with 2:08 to go. Kemp was called for a flagerant elbo on the ensuing play that put Tulsa on the foul line. Shaquille Harrison hit one of two and Tulsa got the ball on the side on the flagerant foul. When Haralson tossed in a second chance trey, it gave Tulsa a four point play - cutting the ECU lead to five, 34-29 at halftime.
Kemp had 13 points at intermission to lead East Carolina in scoring.
ECU(15-10/6-6) hit 44 percent in the first half including 5 of 15 from the arc while Tulsa only connected on .344 from the field and 3-9 from three-point range.
The Pirates opened up slowly in the second half. Tulsa(14-12/6-6) opened the second half with two lay-ins and a Haralson basket followed by dunk by 6-foot-7 Kauri Black to tie the game at 38-38 at the 18 minute mark. That despite an ECU three point play from Ty Armstrong.
D'Andre Wright tied the game again at 40 for Tulsa before a Pat Swilling trey gave the Golden Hurricane the lead with 13:23 to go.
ECU moved ahead 46-45 on Kemp's three-point jumper and subsequent drive, but Kauri Black answered for Tulsa to regain the lead and a Shaq Harrison basket found the Golden Hurrican suddenly up by three midway through the second half.
Pat Swilling's 21-foot jumper gave Tulsa a five point lead, 51-46 with 9:41 to go.
The Pirates were 0-8 in the first ten minutes of the second half from the arc and not much better from the field but a 21-7 run at the end did the trick.
Kemp scored twice to cut the Tulsa lead to just one with nine minutes left. Swilling tossed in a 26-foot trey for Tulsa. Haralson's 12 footer inched Tulsa forward, 56-51.
East Carolina cut the lead to four on a Roberts-Campbell free throw. Then Akeem Richmond tossed in a 23-footer for ECU to cut the lead to two at the six minute mark.
But then Richmond nailed two bombs to give ECU the lead 61-56 as Tulsa went cold from the free throw line on several attempts.
Haralson scored his 17th point of the game to cut the lead to three with 3:30 to go. Campbell answered with a mid-range jumper for ECU -good for a 63-58 lead. Haralson returned the favor with another trey for his 20th. Paul found Sampson for the lob and three point play on the subsequent free-throw.
Tulsa got the basketball with a minute left to play coming out of a timeout. Sampson stole the ball and got the ball to Paul who was fouled by Harrison with :38 to go. Paul hit both first free throws to put ECU on top 68-61 in a play that really made the difference down the stretch.
The Golden Hurricane tried again, but Richmond's steal and two free throws on a Haralson foul went a long way toward icing the game away for East Carolina with :30 left in the game.
Harrison downed two from the charity stripe for Tulsa and Paul matched him from the other end from the foul line with :24.6 to go to close the deal 72-63.
Both teams shot just over 40 percent for the game. ECU was 8 of 29 from the arc while Tulsa hit 7 of 19.