GREENVILLE, N.C. - Tamir Jackson scored 18 points, including two free throws with 40 seconds to play to give Rice its first Conference USA victory of the season with a 69-58 victory over East Carolina Saturday night at Minges Coliseum. The Owls were the only winless team in the league entering the game.
Trey Stanton also scored 18 points for the Owls (7-13, 1-6), who snapped a seven-game losing streak. Arsalan Kazemi added 14 points and Lucas Kuipers netted 10.
Darrius Morrow recorded his second double-double of the season to lead ECU (7-14, 1-6) with 20 points and a career-high 13 rebounds. Brock Young dropped in 14 points.
Each team turned the ball over on its initial possession before putting any points on the board. Consecutive 3-point baskets by Young knotted the game at 6-all then Morrow converted a 3-point play to give ECU its only lead of the first half, 9-8.
Kupiers' 3-pointer erased the Pirates' brief lead and started a 10-2 run that gave Rice an 18-11 advantage. ECU pulled within four, 20-16, on a layup by Jontae Sherrod before the Owls scored 11 unanswered points to take a commanding 31-16 lead with under six minutes remaining in the half.
Kuipers' second 3-pointer of the half extended the Owls' lead to 20, 41-21, with 41 seconds left until intermission.
The Owls made five 3-pointers in the first half, while the Pirates converted just six total field goals. Rice shot 51.4 percent from the floor (18-of-35) compared to only 24.0 percent by ECU (6-of-25).
ECU made nine costly first-half turnovers that turned into 12 points by Rice.
The Pirates wasted little time getting back into the game after halftime. Corvonn Gaines and Morrow each scored five points as part of a 12-2 run that brought ECU within single digits, 43-35, for the first time since the 7:34 mark of the first half.
The run continued as ECU made nine of its first 16 shots to pull within four, 49-45, on Young's third 3-pointer of the night. The Pirates pulled within two, 51-49, with 8:21 remaining but were unable to complete the comeback.
However, the jump shots quit falling after that as the Pirates only made four of their next 20 attempts and finished the game at 31.1 percent shooting (19-of-61). Rice finished the game shooting 43.3 percent (26-of-60).
Jackson combatted the Pirates' run by scoring six of the Owls' next eight points to extend their lead to seven.
Erin Straughn's 3-pointer brought ECU within three with 1:28 left, but Stanton answered with a 3 of his own to for a six-point Rice cushion as the clock dipped under a minute. The Owls then hit key free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.
The Pirates return to the court Tuesday, when they host UCF at Minges Coliseum. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m.
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