Shawn Williams scored 29 points and B.J. Tyson’s 22 points helped him retake the all-time lead in AAC scoring as ECU held on to take an 82-80 Valentine's Day victory over Tulane in Devlin Fieldhouse in New Orleans Wednesday night.
It was ECU's fifth straight win at Tulane.
Williams went 9 for 10 from the field for ECU(10-14/4-9 AAC) including six for six from the arc, an ECU record, and went five for five from the stripe in the victory.
Isaac Fleming, who didn’t practice on Saturday or Monday due to the flu, added 16 points on 7 of 9 shooting from the floor and Aaron Jackson had personal best 12 rebounds in the victory.
Tulane(13-12/4-9 AAC) was led by Cam Reynolds who tossed in 23 points to lead five Green Wave players in double figures.
The Pirates, who were without the services of Kentrell Barkley who stayed back in Greenville due to a violation of team rules, hit a whopping 56.6 percent from the floor including 9 of 16 shooting from the arc and 13 of 15 shooting from the stripe.
“It’s a pretty unique group. I really enjoy coaching them. It’s a joy to coach. It’s interesting. There is a little disfunction, but as I’ve said before, Billy Donovan once said don’t question your team too much because their team may be a little more disfunctional and screwed up than your team is,” said ECU head coach Michael Perry who opted to put his team in a zone defensively against the Green Wave who posted ECU’s guards up with success in the prior game between the two teams in Greenville.
“Our group is really resilliant, they work hard and they can take a tough loss and come back the next day working hard, a smile on their face and attentive to film and they’re a pleasure to coach.”
“Along the way our group has become more cohesive. Our locker room has become stronger and they’re really supportive of one another. Great win, testimony that the team is getting better," Perry said, "To get win here without two starters who were on the floor when we played them last time at our place two weeks ago just speaks volumes as to the steps that this team is taking.”
Shawn Williams was just one point shy of his career high of 30 and was ever dangerous the entire contest shooting the basketball.
“I was just playing my game. Coach has confidence in me, my teammates have confidence in me so that’s just what I’m doing,” Williams stated, “I’m finding ways to get my teammates involved too. I told my teammates to lock in defensively at the end, that wins are hard to get on the road and they did.”
Tyson played the entire forty minutes for a Pirate team that continues to improve as the season goes on.
“I looked at Coach Perry and told him I wanted the ball in my hands,” said ECU guard B.J. Tyson, “I wasn’t going to go all the way to the basket, I was going to pull up and that’s what I did and I got fouled. I told myself I wasn’t going to miss these two and I had to step up. I’m proud of the guys, they had to step up when we didn’t have one of our best players. We had to believe in one another and that’s what we did.”
“We feel pretty good the last time we played them when we lost by two," Tyson said, "We watched the entire overtime (on film) to see what we could do better and we finally came away with the victory.”
HOW IT HAPPENED
ECU held an early 11-3 lead on six quick points from BJ Tyson points and Shawn Williams. But a Caleb Daniels three-pointer and seven points from Ray Ona Embo helped the Green Wave climb back into a 19-18 lead with eight minutes to go before intermission.
Shawn William’s third trey and thirteenth point of the half had the Pirates up four with 3:44 in the half. The ECU lead then expanded to seven on a B.J. Tyson dunk at the two minute mark before the Pirates took a four point 34-30 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Williams’ 16 points and 10 from B.J. Tyson led the Pirates in the first twenty minutes while Cam Reynolds scored nine points to lead Tulane at halftime. The Green Wave went just 3 of 16 from the arc while ECU hit 4 of 10 in the first half.
The Pirates maintained a six point 60-53 lead midway through the second period on a B.J. Tyson three-point drive that tied him for the all-time scoring lead in the AAC. Williams’ 25th point of the game along with a pair of Fleming baskets in the paint had ECU up 67-60 with 7:42 to go.
Cam Reynolds and Ray Ona Embo and Caleb Daniels kept Tulane in a two point game at the three minute mark but Williams hit four free throws down the stretch to go along with a floater in the lane from Fleming to keep ECU out front by three with a minute to play. A Shawn Williams traveling call gave Tulane the basketball back with 49 seconds to go and Cam Reynolds three-pointer tied the game at 80 with 27 seconds on the game clock.
It came down to the last possession where B.J. Tyson was fouled in the act of shooting with 2.4 seconds to play and he hit both shots to seal a two point win for the Pirates. Tulane was unable to score at the end and ECU held on for the victory.
ECU returns to the comfortable confines of Minges Coliseum Sunday afternoon to take on UConn. Tipoff is at 3 o’clock.