Tulsa's Comeback Falls Short in 59-49 Loss to East Carolina
March 7, 2012
Memphis, Tennessee - Eleventh-seed East Carolina held off Tulsa's comeback bid to end the sixth-seeded Golden Hurricane season with a 59-49 victory in the opening game of the Conference USA Women's Basketball Championship Wednesday morning at the Elma Roane Fieldhouse on the campus of the University of Memphis.
Tulsa completes the season with a 13-15 record, while East Carolina advances to second round play on Thursday with a 12-18 record.
"East Carolina really attacked us defensively and threw us out of our rhythm. Offensively, they got off to the same start they did a couple of weeks ago at our place, and shot over 60 percent in the first half. That would be first and foremost, that they played a great game," said Tulsa first-year Head Coach Matilda Mossman.
"I just felt like we were on our heels for most of the game, playing from behind. I'm really proud of the effort our kids showed. I'm proud of how our kids hung in there. For that matter, I'm really proud of the effort our kids have given us all year long. To be picked to finish 11th in the conference, and then to finish sixth and come in here as the No. 6-seed, it gives us a good feeling about the future of our program," added Mossman.
East Carolina began the game on fire from the field, shooting 63.6 percent from the field, but only 18-percent in the second half. The Hurricane held the Pirates to just four second-half field goals, while scoring eight of their own, but just couldn't get enough baskets to drop. For the game, ECU ended with a 49.9 field percentage, while Tulsa shot just 36.5 percent. ECU knocked down 6-of-16 three-pointers, while Tulsa converted on just 1-of-11 treys.
The Pirates knocked down their free throws when it counted, going 15-of-18 in the second half and 17-of-21 for 81-percent in the game.
Leading by nine points at halftime, East Carolina began the second half on an 11-2 run to take an 18-point lead, 46-28, within the first six minutes of the half.
Tulsa made its first bid at a comeback with 12:52 remaining in the contest as the Hurricane went on an 8-0 run to cut the ECU lead to 10 points at 46-36 on one-of-two free throws by Mayberry with 9:11 left on the clock. After two ECU free throws, Kadan Brady's steal and layup cut the deficit back to 10 points at 48-38 at the 6:36 mark.
With 4:02 left on the game clock, Hooker's layup cut ECU's lead to 49-40 as it was the first time the Pirates' lead was under double-digits since halftime. The Hurricane closed the score to seven points, 51-44, on a Mayberry layup with 2:02 remaining. From that point, Tulsa was in a score-foul mode, but the Pirates connected on 8-of-8 free throws in the final two minutes and the Hurricane could just score five more points to close out the game.
The Pirates started the game firing on all cylinders.
East Carolina's early shooting was reminiscent of the February 19th meeting in Tulsa when the Pirates had a first-half field goal percentage of .727 against the Hurricane. Today, the Pirates did nearly the same by connecting on a sizzling 63.6 percent from the field to take a 35-26 lead into halftime.
ECU shot 63.6 percent in the first 11 minutes of the game and built a 24-12 lead against the Hurricane. Tulsa cut the 12-point lead to just eight points with back-to-back baskets by Denise Lewis and Hooker before the 8-minute media timeout. The Pirates took their biggest lead of the first half on a Kristina Mial three-pointer at 33-20 with 4:23 remaining before intermission.
Chanice Scott's three-pointer from the top of the key cut Tulsa's first-half deficit to nine points with 0:21 on the clock and ending the first 20 minutes trailing 35-36.
The Pirates' Chareya Smith had a first-half high of 11 points, while Mial had 10 points as she connected on 3-of-6 three-pointers. Tulsa's Hooker led the Hurricane in the first 20 minutes with six points.
Tulsa's 13 wins are the most for the Hurricane since the school's only NCAA Tournament season of 26 wins in the 2005-06 campaign.
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