James Woodard scored a game-high 21 points as the Tulsa Golden Hurricane pulled away from the East Carolina Pirates for a 76-58 victory on Thursday night in front of 4,194 fans at the Donald W. Reynolds Center. Tulsa evened its season record to 12-12 and improved in Conference USA play 7-3, while ECU fell to 13-12 and 2-8 in league action.
Woodard scored 17 of his points in a 43-point second half for the Hurricane, while freshman Stevie Repichowski added a career-high 13 points and sophomores Shaquille Harrison had 11 and Brandon Swannegan 10 points. Tulsa held the Pirates to 29 points in both halves of play, out-scoring ECU by 14 points in the second half. Paris Roberts-Campbell led the Pirates with 17 points, while the nation's three-point leader Akeem Richmond knocked down four treys but was held to 14 points.
"I thought our guys did a very good job of continuing to grind out a win," Tulsa coach Danny Manning said. "It took us a while to figure out that zone and how to attack the zone and where to get the ball to. Once we figured that out, we had pretty good ball movement. Guys had some pretty good shots and made some pretty big plays for us. We did a good job of coming out and guarding ECU for stretches. We need to put together longer sequences with better defense. All in all, I thought it was a very good "grind it out" win for us."
Trailing 45-44 with just under 12 minutes remaining in the contest, Repichowski's layup at the 11:27 mark gave Tulsa a 46-45 lead and it began a 32-14 run for the Hurricane. Over the next 1:11, Tulsa went ahead 51-45 when Repichowski knocked down a three-pointer at the 10:06 mark.
The Hurricane took its first double digit lead, 65-53, on a Woodard three-pointer with 5:49 left in the game. Tulsa finished out the game by out-scoring the Pirates 11-to-5 for the 18-point victory.
Tulsa had a huge advantage in the paint, out-scoring East Carolina 36-16, scored 21 points off of turnovers to the Pirates' eight points, had a 19-3 advantage in second-chance points and the Hurricane bench out-scored ECU's reserves 29 to 5.
East Carolina scored the first basket of the game and held the lead for the first 14 minutes, grabbing its largest lead at 20-12 on a three-pointer by Paris Roberts-Campbell at the 8:46 mark.
Harrison's three-pointer at the 5:19 mark knotted the score at 24-24, while Repichowski's trey gave the Hurricane its first lead at 27-24 with 4:34 on the clock. The Pirates tied the score two more times before Tulsa closed out the first half with two straight baskets on an Evans jumper in the paint and a dunk by Brandon Swannegan gave the Hurricane a 33-29 halftime lead.
Eight of Tulsa's nine players scored in the first half, led by Harrison's seven points, while East Carolina's Campbell led all scorers in the first 20 minutes with 10 points. The Hurricane had a 19-12 rebounding edge and got 16 points off the bench.
Tulsa will be back at the Reynolds Center Saturday for a 3:05 p.m. game against the Old Dominion Monarchs.