PirateIllustrated - Tulsa Rolls Past ECU 70-56
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Tulsa Rolls Past ECU 70-56

Martins Igbanu and Tulsa take down East Carolina Wednesday night in Reynolds Center.
Martins Igbanu and Tulsa take down East Carolina Wednesday night in Reynolds Center. (Tulsa Basketball photo)

Tulsa got off to a fast start, ECU didn’t and cold Pirate shooting along with untimely turnovers proved to be the difference in a 70-56 Golden Hurricane victory Wednesday night in front of 3,232 at Reynolds Center.

Martins Igbanu came off the bench to play 33 minutes and score a game high 24 points and grabbed ten rebounds for Tulsa along with 11 points from Darian Jackson and ten each from Lawson Korita and Jeriah Horne. Igbanu’s 12 made free throws in 18 attempts was more than ECU made as a team.

ECU did get a career tying 21 points from J.J. Miles, 13 points from Brandon Suggs and 12 from a gimpy Jayden Gardner who didn’t practice on Monday or Tuesday in the Pirates’ 15th loss of the season. Thirty-five percent shooting and just 11 of 16 shooting from the charity stripe proved to be a bad recipe for the Pirates.

Tulsa never trailed and made just less than 44 percent from the floor to go along with 67.6 percent shooting from the line. The Golden Hurricane got to the charity stripe 34 times making 23 in the victory. ECU committed 17 turnovers to 15 for a Tulsa team that doubled ECU in scoring in the paint at 32-16 and outscored the Pirates 39 to 13 from the bench.

“When you’re shooting 18 free throws, he’s a beast. He got to the free throw line a lot and they doubled us on the free throw line. He’s a very good player,” Joe Dooley said about Igbanu’s performance afterward, “In the second half we came out with a lot better energy and cut it to eight then we turned it over six of the next 13 times which you can’t do on the road against a good team.”

The home standing Golden Hurricane set the tone early offensively in the first half while ECU couldn’t seem to throw it in the ocean.

“They got off to a good start. I told our guys that they would be desperate. They had just lost two in a row. You’ve got some guys who I think played with some desperation and stepped up and made some shots,” Dooley stated, “We settled in a little towards the latter part of the first half and got some stops. Of our first ten shots, probably eight or nine of them were wide open. We’ve got to knock them down, especially on the road.”

Three treys from Tulsa and 1-7 ECU shooting including just 1 for 5 from the arc quickly had the Golden Hurricane up 9-3 in the first four minutes of the game.

While the Pirates made just two shots in the first eight minutes, Darien Jackson snuck behind the ECU defense for an impressive catch and dunk that increased the Golden Hurricane lead to two touchdowns at 21-7.

Two straight easy baskets allowed Tulsa(16-8/8-3 AAC) to maintain a 32-16 cushion before Jayden Gardner finally scored his first two points of the half on a pair of free throws with 5:21 to go before halftime.

A technical foul with just over a minute to go in the half on Bitumba Baruti resulted in two Jeriah Horne free throws for his tenth point of the half along with ten first half points from Igbanu that gave Tulsa a 39-23 lead at the break.

ECU(10-15/4-8 AAC) went 6 for 24 from the floor including just 3 for 11 from the arc in the first twenty minutes.

Jayden Gardner’s first three made baskets of the game and a three-pointer from J.J. Miles cut the Tulsa lead to as little as eight in a 12-2 ECU run early in the second half. Then a 5-0 Pirate spurt cut the lead to eight again on a three-pointer from Miles with 6:33 to go.

The lead remained at eight with five minutes remaining but turnovers kept ECU from getting as much as a shot off on several possessions and Tulsa pulled away down the stretch for the win.

ECU returns to action on February 16 when Cincinnati comes to town for a 12 noon tipoff on CBS Sports Network television.