basketball Edit

ECU Topples Western Carolina 95-79 To Remain Undefeated

East Carolina forward Vance Jackson operates along the baseline against Western Carolina's Joe Petrakis.
East Carolina forward Vance Jackson operates along the baseline against Western Carolina's Joe Petrakis. ( photo)

ECU jumped out to a big lead early and got a career high 30 points from Tristen Newton along with 15 from Brandon Suggs and 14 points from Tremont Robinson-White in an easy 95-79 win over Western Carolina in Minges Coliseum.

The Pirates had an easy go of it in the first half making just under 82 percent from long range, 68.8 percent overall and dished out 17 assists. Western Carolina made just 30.4 percent from the floor in the first twenty minutes including 33 percent from the arc.

“I hit five three’s in the first half and I think all of them were just catch and shoot so it was really just my teammates finding me open,” Newton told PI, “In the second half they said keep going, so I did.”

All told, Western Carolina(1-2) launched up 46 three-point attempts making just 17 along with 10 of 11 from the charity stripe and were led in scoring by Nick Robinson who led four players in double-figures with 28 points including seven treys to go along with nine rebounds. Marcus Banks had 13 points, Travion McCray tossed in 11 points and Joe Petrakis scored 10 for the Catamounts.

“We got off to a good start obviously shooting the ball, but I thought our defense was solid if we didn’t give up second chance points,” said ECU head coach Joe Dooley, “I think in the first half we gave up 19 second chance points. All of those three’s were a little bit of a problem that we didn’t rebound. I thought when we got stops and got out and ran we were very effective with the exception of the last few minutes our defense was really good.”

“We had a good number of assists and we didn’t turn the ball over and those things always help when you don’t turn the ball over,” Dooley said, “We didn’t give them as many transition opportunities.”

“We got 25 points off of turnovers which is a good number,” Dooley told, “It’s hard to withstand a team making 17 three’s and the guys did a nice job. I thought we did a fair job in spurts of guarding the three-point line. 46 of 63 shots is a lot of three’s to defend. We did a nice job of taking care of the ball and once we rebounded in those situations, we did a good job of being effective in transition.”

Three-pointers from Tristen Newton and J.J. Miles had ECU(3-0) up 17-8 in the first four minutes before the Catamounts struck back with treys from Vonterius Woolbright, Nicholas Robinson and Tyler Harris to tie the game at 19-19 midway into the first half.

Tristen Newton’s fourth bomb of the half pushed ECU back out to eight points before a backdoor three-point play in the paint and a subsequent trey from Brandon Suggs helped grow the ECU lead to fourteen at 33-19.

Newton’s fifth trey and a J.J. Miles three-point play in transition pushed the Pirate margin to 44-22 with 5:35 remaining before halftime where ECU led 59-33 on a Tremont Robinson-White drive at the buzzer.

It wasr the most points an ECU team has scored in a half since 2011.

Nick Robinson led Western Carolina with 14 halftime points while Tristen Newton with 15 points and 14 from Brandon Suggs led the Pirates in scoring in the first twenty minutes.

The Catamounts trimmed the lead to sixteen at the 15 minute mark of the second half at 65-49 on six straight Travion McCray points before ECU scored twelve straight points to open up a 28-point 77-49 lead.

Western Carolina answered with a 19 to 10 run of their own to get back within 19 points at 87-68 with 7:30 remaining before cutting the ECU lead to 15 with four minutes to go.

“We got too comfortable and happy with success. We didn’t stay on them. We’ve just got to learn to not let teams get the light of day where they feel like they can come back,” said Suggs,” That’s going to happen with more chemistry and more games, so we’ll be alright.”

The Pirates hit the road to take on Oklahoma this Thursday in the Myrtle Beach Invitational in Conway, S.C. Game time is set for 7 p.m.