basketball Edit

Second Half Memphis Rally Leads to a 78-72 Win Over ECU

Jayden Gardner scored 18 points ( photo)

Memphis erased a 15 point first half ECU lead and then came up big down the stretch to hold on for a 78-72 win over the Pirates Thursday night at the FedEx Forum.

Tyler Harris scored 16 points to lead six Tigers in double figures while Jayden Gardner’s 18 points led five players in double-figures for ECU including double-doubles from both Seth LeDay and K.J. Davis.

As well at ECU played for most of the first half, nearly everything that could have possibly gone wrong did so in the second half.

“You lead for 27 minutes of the game, but you can’t have empty possessions like we had where we didn’t even get a shot or a lane violation when you’re down two points,” ECU head coach Joe Dooley said after the game, “Those things can’t happen. That's inexcusable and we’ve got to do a better job. They stepped up and they made plays, we knew they were going to make a run and they did. We answered most of them but they key ones at the end.”

The Pirates held as much as a 33-18 lead in a 12-1 first half run with just over eight minutes to go with K.J. Davis, Seth LeDay and Shawn Williams all getting into the act along with baskets from Justice Obasahan and Dimitri Spasojevic.

But despite leading for nearly seventeen minutes of the first half, ECU then went ice cold, missing their last nine three-point attempts of the half. That allowed Memphis to cut the Pirate lead to just four at 40-36 at halftime on treys from Kyvon Davenport and Tyler Harris to cap a 10-0 Memphis run.

Seth LeDay with nine points along with eight points each from Isaac Fleming and K.J. Davis led the Pirates in the first twenty minutes. Kyvon Davenport’s nine points and eight from Kareem Brewton led the Tigers heading into the locker room.

Kareem Brewton’s three-point jumper cut the ECU lead to three early in the second half before Seth LeDay’s dunk and Shawn Williams’ first trey of the game followed by a three-point play in the paint from LeDay expanded the ECU lead right back to ten at 49-39. It looked like ECU was back on track, but two Antwann Jones’ treys for Memphis, a pair of Jones free throws followed by a Harris dunk allowed the Tigers to tie the game at 49-49.

ECU(8-7/1-2 AAC) wasn’t through yet with two Williams jumpers followed by a K.J. Davis trey pushing the ECU lead back to six. Then Isaac Fleming’s steal and layup capped a 10-2 Pirate run in a 59-51 contest with twelve minutes to go.

Tyler Harris nailed a three pointer for Memphis and then added a baseline drive on the next possession before Jeremiah Martin’s steal and score cut the ECU lead to one at 59-58 with 10:30 remaining.

Justice Obasahan landed on Martin after the block attempt on the layup and Memphis was awarded two free throws and possession of the basketball on what was called a flagrant one foul. Davenport was then fouled on the subsequent possession and hit one of two from the charity stripe as Memphis took their first lead since early in the game at 61-59.

Two straight Memphis baskets capped an 8-1 run to give the Tigers their biggest lead at 69-65 at the seven minute mark.

K.J. Davis' basket got ECU back to within two with 2:30 to play, but the Pirates were unable to score points down the stretch and Memphis(10-6/2-1 AAC) held on to take the victory.

The Pirates next travel to Orlando to take on UCF Sunday at 4 p.m.