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Washington, White lead Pirates past Hatters

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East Carolina's Kentrell Barkley goes for a shot during their game against Stetson Sunday afternoon.

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By Tony Castleberry
The Daily Reflector

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Andre Washington and Caleb White shared the spotlight Sunday in Minges Coliseum.

Luckily for East Carolina’s basketball team, there was room for both of them, and others, to shine.

Washington, a 7-foot-1 senior center, set career highs in points (21), rebounds (16) and blocked shots (six), and White, a 6-7 senior, led all players with 22 points to help the Pirates beat Stetson 73-50 in the Savannah Invitational opener for ECU.

White was reinstated after a one-game suspension by the NCAA and freshman Jeremy Sheppard played in his first college game after serving a three-game ban for a violation of team rules, but it was Washington who carried the Pirates (3-1) early and White scored 17 points in the second half to give the home team an easy win.

“Andre was a huge difference for us tonight,” said seventh-year coach Jeff Lebo, whose 102 victories tie him with Tom Quinn for the most with ECU since the program’s move to Division I. “He was terrific scoring the ball, face-up jumpers, rebounding, getting to the foul line. Twenty-one and 16 is a big night.”

With White starting 0-of-3 from the field, Washington scored six points, grabbed three rebounds and blocked two shots in the first eight minutes for the Pirates, who lost at Charlotte on Thursday. He set a new career scoring high with two free throws at the 8:40 mark and following a tip-in that gave Washington 15 points.

White connected on a 3-pointer to cap a 15-2 Pirate run that made it 27-11 with 7:41 left in the half.

The lead swelled to 34-14 on a B.J. Tyson floater before a 9-1 Hatters run pulled them within 12 at 35-23. White's jumper with 25 ticks left made it 37-23 Pirates at halftime.

Washington scored four quick points in the opening minutes of the second half, leading ECU on a 15-7 surge that made it 50-30 at the 16:05 mark. The Pirates took their biggest lead, 73-48, when White hit a free throw with 5:03 remaining.

After never reaching double figures in points or rebounds in three seasons at Wake Forest, Washington, a graduate transfer, seems to be finding a productive groove with the Pirates. 

“Coach Lebo, he’s had my back and he’s just been giving me the confidence to go to the basket and that’s what I did today,” said Washington, who noted he has not dominated a game like he did against Stetson (2-2) since his high school days in Virginia. “I’m just thankful for my teammates to find me, and I delivered. ... I started off really well and my team saw that so they just kept feeding me the ball.”

He and White were not the only delivery men for East Carolina. Tyson scored 14 points and Kentrell Barkley was three assists away from notching a triple-double, finishing with 10 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists. Clarence Williams added a career-high 13 rebounds and the Pirates enjoyed a whopping 63-38 advantage on the glass.

It was the first time since Feb. 11, 2004, that three ECU players had double-digit rebounds in a game, and the defensive boardwork helped limit Stetson to only seven second-chance points. The Hatters shot just 20.3 percent from the field two days after scoring 112 points in a loss to The Citadel.

For White, the Pirates’ leading scorer who has only missed three games in his 100-game Pirate career, sitting out Thursday affected his play against Stetson, but once he found a rhythm, he did not lose it.

“I felt, and the people around me felt, that it was kind of harsh,” White said, referring to being suspended for his mother receiving ECU football tickets from a booster. “I had to take my punishment. ... My (college basketball) days are numbered being a senior, and having any game taken away from you kind of hurts.

“That first half was bad. I shot one off the backboard. I shot one that barely made it to the rim. It took me pretty much all of that first half to get my second wind and get my rhythm back, but then in the second half, I started to come around.”

NOTES: Barkley turned his ankle while being fouled late in the first half, and after making 1-of-2 free throws, left the game to get treatment. He returned for the second half, and showed no signs that his ankle was bothering him.

ECU plays another Savannah Invitational game on Tuesday against Florida A&M in Minges before travelling to Georgia for the final two games of the tournament on Friday and Saturday.

Contact Tony Castleberry at tcastleberry@reflector.com, 252-329-9591 and follow @tcastleberrygdr on Twitter.

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