GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP) — Tyler Polley scored 16 of his 19 points in the second half to lift Connecticut to an 82-73 win over East Carolina on Sunday in the American Athletic Conference season finale for both teams.
Josh Carlton added 20 points to lead the Huskies. Christian Vital added 16 points, and Jalen Adams contributed 13 points and 12 assists. Shawn Williams scored 20 points and senior Isaac Fleming scored 18 points with 11 assists on senior day for East Carolina (10-20, 3-15 American Athletic Conference), which lost for the ninth time in its last 10 games.
The Huskies (15-16, 6-12) won for the second time in three games by using excellent shooting to overcome some carelessness with the basketball (18 turnovers). UConn shot 62.5 percent from the field and 84.2 percent from the free throw line as Polley heated up from the field in the second half.
At 6-foot-8, he positioned himself on the wing in front of the Huskies’ bench and elevated over the defense to make four of his five 3-point attempts in the second half. Meanwhile, Carlton used his 6-foot-10 frame to battle for baskets and draw fouls inside.
Polley made a pair of 3-pointers from in front of the UConn bench within 1:40 to spark the Huskies to an 11-2 run that turned a 48-48 tie into a 59-50 lead with 10:39 remaining. ECU closed to within 64-62 on a Jayden Gardner basket with 5:36 remaining, but the Huskies scored the next five points to stretch their lead.
UConn: After suffering through a six-game losing streak that took up most of February, the Huskies enter the postseason with a 2-1 record in March. Sunday also marked the team’s lone road win in conference play.
ECU: The Pirates finished a difficult regular season with nine losses in their final 10 games. Losing junior Seth LeDay (11.0 ppg) to a season-ending knee injury Wednesday night at Wichita State didn’t help East Carolina’s prognosis entering the postseason.
UConn: Will play an undetermined opponent in the American Athletic Conference Tournament on Thursday in Memphis.
East Carolina: Also plays in the American Athletic Conference Tournament on Thursday in Memphis.
ECU will be the No. 11 seed and face No. 6 seed Wichita State Thursday, March 14, in the First Round of the 2019 Air Force Reserve American Athletic Conference Men’s Basketball Championship at the FedExForum in Memphis, Tenn.
ECU lost both its games against the Shockers this season, falling 65-49 at home and 72-55 on the road. Isaac Fleming was the only Pirate to score double figures in each game, averaging 14.5 points per contest.
The schedule for Thursday’s first round games begins with No. 8 USF opening against No. 9 UConn at 1 p.m. EDT, followed by No. 5 Memphis vs. No. 12 Tulane at 3 p.m. No. 7 Tulsa will take on No. 10 SMU to open the night session at 8 p.m. with the Pirates and Shockers locking up in the nightcap at approximately 10 p.m.
All first round games will be televised on ESPNU. Radio coverage will be provided for ECU games in the tournament on the Pirate Learfield IMG College radio network (WNCT 107.9 FM in Greenville) and online via TuneIn. The national broadcast of the game can be heard on satellite radio. SiriusXM will feature the games on channel 134/XM channel 202. It will also be available on the SiriusXM app on channel 965.
The Pirates are making their fifth appearance at The American Basketball Championship and own a record of 2-4. They advanced to the quarterfinals with first round wins in 2015 and ’17.
The winner of the ECU-Wichita State game will advance to face No. 3 Temple at 9 p.m. Friday, preceded by No. 2 Cincinnati against the Tulsa-SMU winner. The USF-UConn winner advances to face No. 1 Houston at 12 p.m. Friday, followed by Memphis-Tulane winner versus No. 4 UCF.
The tournament will culminate with a pair of semifinal games on Saturday afternoon, beginning at 3 p.m. and the championship game on Sunday. The championship game is set for a 3:15 p.m. start on ESPN, which will air start-to-finish coverage of the event on its family of networks.
2019 AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP – FEDEXFORUM – MEMPHIS, TENN.
Thursday, March 14 - First Round
No. 9 UConn vs. No. 8 USF, 1 p.m. ET/noon CT (ESPNU)
No. 12 Tulane vs. No. 5 Memphis, 3 p.m. ET/2 p.m. CT (ESPNU)
No. 10 SMU vs. No. 7 Tulsa, 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT (ESPNU)
No. 11 ECU vs. No. 6 Wichita State, 10 p.m. ET/9 p.m. CT (ESPNU)
Friday, March 15 - Quarterfinals
8/9 winner vs. No. 1 Houston, noon ET/11 a.m. CT (ESPN2)
5/12 winner vs. No. 4 UCF, 2 p.m. ET/1 p.m. CT (ESPN2)
7/10 winner vs. No. 2 Cincinnati, 7 p.m. ET/6 p.m. CT (ESPNU)
6/11 winner vs. No. 3 Temple, 9 p.m./8 p.m. CT (ESPNU)
Saturday, March 16 - Semifinals
Quarterfinal winners, 3 p.m. ET/2 p.m. CT (ESPN2)
Quarterfinal winners, 5 p.m. ET/4 p.m. CT (ESPN2)
Sunday, March 17 - Final
Semifinal winners, 3:15 p.m. ET/2:15 p.m. CT (ESPN)