Memphis Outlasts East Carolina for a 57-50 Win in FedEx Forum
Memphis fell behind early, but fought back in the second half and took a 57-50 win over scrappy East Carolina Saturday afternoon in the FedEx Forum.
Jimario Rivers scored 15 points and K.J. Lawson added 12 points and 19 rebounds to lead the Tigers while Jeremy Sheppard and Kentrell Barkley scored 13 and Michel Nzege came on to score nine points for ECU. Andre Washington contributed with eight blocked shots for the Pirates who fell to 10-12 overall and 2-7 in American Athletic Conference play.
“It’s been a struggle for us for most of the year shooting the ball from the perimeter. We’re trying to produce offense in other ways in transition, offensive rebounds, free throws and trying to be more aggressive off the bounce and get in the paint and create offense, but at the end of the day you’re going to have to make some perimeter shots, said ECU interim head coach Michael Perry.
“It was a little frustrating because we were getting nearly uncontested shots. They could literally count the seams on the ball and we were missing those,” Perry said.
ECU took an early 9-4 lead on three Kentrell Barkley baskets and an Elijah Hughes three-point jumper. Cold 2-14 Memphis shooting in the early going allowed the Pirates to get away with five early turnovers.
Jimario Rivers, K.J. Lawson and Keon Clergeot scored to get something going for the Tigers before the Pirates stretched the lead to as much as 20-11 on a fast break basket from Caleb White and free throws from Jeremy Sheppard and Kentrell Barkley.
Despite 7-28 shooting on mostly solid ECU defense including just 1 for 7 from the arc, the Tigers crawled back into the game behind Jimario Rivers who scored twice late in the period to trim the ECU lead to a three-point 22-19 ballgame at halftime.
ECU went just 8 of 24 from the floor in the first half and an equally cold 1 for 7 from three-point range. Seven Pirate turnovers in the first twenty minutes of play kept them from blowing the game wide open.
Kentrell Barkley’s 9 points for the Pirates and 8 points from Jimario Rivers for Memphis led all scorers at intermission.
Memphis(16-6/6-3 AAC) crawled back in the game to take their first lead since early in the first half on a Jeremiah Martin steal and score. Markel Crawford finally heated up to can a pair of jumpers for his first points of the game. Then two Christian Kessee free throws combined with baskets from KJ Lawson and Dedric Lawson allowed the Tigers to open up their biggest lead of the game of nine points at 41-33 with twelve minutes to play.
Despite closing to within five at 43-38 on a Michel Nzege basket, Memphis controlled the boards 52-40 and kept the offensive heat on to open up a 47-38 lead. The Tigers lead then grew to 52-40 with 5:21 remaining.
The Pirates cut the lead to seven at the end, but 2 of 17 shooting from the arc just wasn’t enough to give ECU much of a chance to win.