TULSA, Okla. – Tulsa had a 26-5 advantage in free throw attempts Sunday and needed every last one as the Golden Hurricane escaped with a 75-70 win over East Carolina at the Reynolds Center. With the tough-luck loss, ECU drops to 8-18 overall and 2-11 in Conference USA play. Tulsa improves to 11-13 and 6-7.
The Pirates hit 28 of their 48 attempts from the field to shoot a season-best 58 percent while the Hurricane shot 38 percent but put up 63 tries and knocked down 24 field goals. Tulsa dominated the rebounding category, ending with a 39-24 advantage on the glass – including 22 offensive rebounds which turned into 25 important second-chance points.
East Carolina put in a campaign-best 11 three-point field goals and finished with a 55-percent showing from range. Despite some physical defense by the home team, the Pirates finished with just three free throws on the five attempts. Additionally, East Carolina racked up 20 assists with Celeste Stewart responsible for six of the helpers.
Sophomore Kristine Mial netted 14 points to lead the Pirates offensively and was joined in double figures by Chareya Smith (11), Shala Hodges (11) and Stewart (10). Mial also picked up a team-best four rebounds and three steals. With two three-pointers made in the game, she has now hit a triple in 13-straight games.
ECU jumped out to a 6-2 lead thanks to a pair of triples from Mial and Ebron. However, Tulsa responded quickly with four-straight points to knot the score. The Pirates then received a nice scoring streak from Mial, as she would score her 12th point of the half to make it a 24-17 East Carolina advantage.
The Golden Hurricane answered the Pirate surge with a run of their own, pulling within two at 27-25 when Chanice Scott nailed back-to-back three-pointers with seven minutes left in the half. A Katie Paschal three afforded ECU a 34-31 cushion as the clock ticked under four minutes, but Tiffani Couisnard gave her team its first lead of the day when she hit a jumper to put Tulsa ahead by two.
The Pirates netted the next five points to grab a three-point lead with 1:10 remaining, but Taylor Hooker dropped in a triple with time running down to forge a 39-39 halftime deadlock.
East Carolina shot a sizzling 78 percent in the first 20 minutes, draining 16 of its 22 attempts from the field, and limited the home side to 39 percent . The Golden Hurricane was able to keep in the game by taking 38 shots and getting some timely shots from range. Tulsa also held a slight 19-18 edge in the rebounding column and grabbed 13 offensive rebounds to create a number of second chances.
The teams traded blows to begin the second stanza, but Chareya Smith came alive about five minutes in, scoring six-straight down low to give ECU a 58-50 lead. However, the Pirates failed to score for a stretch of six minutes, allowing Tulsa to claw back and take a 59-58 advantage.
The lead was brief, however, as Shala Hodges nailed a three-pointer to put East Carolina back in front 61-59. She would come through again a few possessions later, hitting another long ranger and making the score 67-62.
The Golden Hurricane answered yet again, eventually tying the score at 70 to cap an 8-3 run. Hooker then knocked down one of two free throws to push Tulsa ahead with just over a minute left on the clock. The Pirates did not score again, allowing the Hurricane to slip out with the win.
ECU returns home Thursday, Feb. 23, hosting UCF at Minges Coliseum. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m.