PirateIllustrated - Tristen Newton Scores 23 Points in a 77-73 Loss to Memphis
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Tristen Newton Scores 23 Points in a 77-73 Loss to Memphis

Tristen Newton looked solid with 23 points and 13 rebounds but ECU came up short Wednesday night in Memphis.
Tristen Newton looked solid with 23 points and 13 rebounds but ECU came up short Wednesday night in Memphis. (PirateIllustrated.com photo)

Precious Achiuwa scored 24 points to go along with 12 boards, Boggie Ellis added 17 points and Memphis escaped with a 77-73 win over ECU to snap a three-game Tiger losing streak Wednesday night inside the FedEx Forum.

ECU was down by as much as 16 points but fought back in the second half and put themselves in a position to win the game late before finally running out of gas at the end.

Tristen Newton turned in another strong game for ECU with a career tying 23 points and a career high 13 rebounds. Jayden Gardner scored 16 and Bitumba Baruti added 14 in his first double-figure scoring game as a Pirate but with the loss, ECU fell to 10-17 and 4-10 in AAC play.

“Tristen saved us in the first half. We got off to a bad start. I thought he kept us in the game early. We were sort of teetering on the point of getting beat pretty good and the guys fought back and he did a great job of scoring some baskets for us, rebounding, getting us out in transition and getting to the paint” said Dooley.

Newton recapped his performance and that of his teammates Wednesday night.

“It was a tough game. We were fighting the whole game, it just didn’t go our way,” Newton said, “We feel like we can compete with anybody in the league but tonight it just did not happen. The game for me is slowing down. The pressure they put on me in practice is game like so I’m really getting used to it.”

Both teams shot just under 45 percent for the game. The Pirates made just 4 of 20 from the arc but did make 17 of 22 from the foul line in the loss. Memphis made 7 of 24 from three-point range.

“We had some chances and Precious made some spectacular plays. He’s just a different level athlete. He had some finishes at the basket,” Joe Dooley said, “We had some good looks. Tre had a good look at a three and it was a great shot but he just missed it. We got comfortable. I thought Tristen had some really good downhill drives and had some opportunities and we weren’t able to pull it out unfortunately.”

ECU out rebounded the Tigers by one and delivered 19 assists to just 15 for Memphis, but untimely turnovers at the end and a slow start proved to be the Pirates’ undoing.

“I told them I was proud of the way we could have been put away and we didn’t,” said Dooley, “We also need to play a little smarter in stretches. We took a few bad shots and had some untimely turnovers but I thought for the most part they didn’t look around when we were a little rattled early. Once we got our footing, we played at a high level and we tried to compete.”

Cold Pirate shooting, six early turnovers and a 12-0 Tiger run had Memphis(18-8/10-3 AAC) up 22-8 on seven Precious Achiuwa points and five more from Alex Lomax with eight minutes to go in the half. ECU made just 3 of their first 19 shots in the first twelve minutes.

Bitumba Baruti’s three-point jumper with four minutes left in the half cut the Memphis lead to six at 27-21 and the two teams went into the locker room at 33-27 at halftime.

Tristen Newton led ECU with 14 first half points along with seven from Bitumba Baruti. Precious Achiuwa had nine points in the first twenty minutes for Memphis.

ECU opened the second half on a bit of a roll with baskets from Charles Coleman and Tremont Robinson-White but Memphis matched the Pirates and a Boggie Ellis trey had the Tigers up by ten at 41-31. Lance Thomas’ basket made it 49-33 just four minutes in.

J.J. Miles three-pointer from the left wing cut the lead to six at 56-50 with nine minutes to go before the Pirates tied the game at 60-60 on a pair of Newton free throws with 6:23 to play.

Jayden Gardner’s layup and subsequent jumper had the Pirates tied late in the game on two more occasions.

The Pirates went down by four and cut the lead to three on a Tremont Robinson-White free throw but he missed the second, Jayden Gardner collected a foul on the rebound and Lance Thomas converted two free throws at the other end to extend the lead to five.

Alex Lomax made one free throw with 25.7 seconds to play in a 75-70 game. Robinson-White then dragged a foot on the next ECU possession and was called for traveling.

Bitumba Baruti’s made three-pointer with 10.3 remaining to keep ECU within reach at 76-73 before Boggie Ellis finally put the game away with one free throw with 8.3 seconds left.

ECU returns to the hardwood when the Temple Owls come to town on Sunday at Noon on ESPNU.