ECU stays unbeaten at home
By Tony Castleberry
The Daily Reflector
Wednesday, November 30, 2016
Andre Washington is doing his best not to take a minute of his final college basketball season for granted, and East Carolina is reaping the benefits of his inspired play.
Washington, a 7-foot-1 graduate transfer center, scored 13 points, grabbed eight rebounds and blocked a game-high five shots, and teammate B.J. Tyson led all players with 17 points to keep ECU undefeated at home this season after a 68-48 victory over Hampton on Tuesday in Minges Coliseum. The Pirates (6-2) moved to 5-0 in Greenville with N.C. Central, which won at Missouri on Monday, coming to town Saturday.
Hampton (1-6), which also uses the Pirate mascot, led the game three times in the first half and got within a point of ECU’s lead in the second before East Carolina pulled away. Washington and his rim protection played a major role in the win.
“If I block one shot and they come in there again, they’re going to be scared,” said the big man who did not get a lot of playing time at Wake Forest before transferring. “I’m not really worried about foul trouble. I sat the bench at Wake for, like, four years. If I get out of the game, it ain’t nothing I haven’t done before. I’m just thankful to be out there so I’m just going to play as hard as I can while I am.”
A.J. Ashtroth's putback pulled Hampton within one, 42-41, but two Kentrell Barkley free throws, a Tyson jumper and a Barkley dunk on a fast break feed from Tyson pushed ECU ahead 48-41. As Hampton struggled through a field goal drought of 9:07, East Carolina steadily increased its lead until Justice Obasohan’s tip-in produced the final score and ECU’s biggest lead.
Limiting turnovers after halftime was pivotal for East Carolina, which got 12 points and six rebounds from Barkley, a career-high nine points from freshman Jeremy Sheppard and eight boards from redshirt freshman Deng Riak, also a career high.
“We turned the ball over so much the first half,” ECU coach Jeff Lebo said. “We’re not a great ball-handling team. We’re not a great passing team. We’re not crisp yet offensively like I’d like. We seem to be a little bit better flowing when we had (Sheppard) in tonight at the point guard position. ... Our decision-making needs to get better, but we did a much better job in the second half taking care of the ball.”
Despite turning the ball over 13 times in the first half, ECU went on a 10-2 run, sparked by eight points from Tyson, to lead 36-28 at halftime. East Carolina made 58.3 percent of its field goals and went 6-of-7 from the free throw line in the first 20 minutes, but Hampton converted ECU's 13 giveaways into 13 points to keep it close.
After ECU jumped out to a 7-0 lead, Hampton used a 15-5 surge capped by a Trevond Barnes 3 to take a 15-12 lead. Jermaine Marrow's jumper tied it 26-26 before Tyson answered with a layup to put East Carolina ahead for good at the 3:20 mark.
Tyson, who tied HU’s Jermaine Marrow with a game-high five assists, needed 18 points to reach 1,000 for his career. The junior guard said he was aware of how many he needed before the game, and lamented falling one shy afterward.
“I really forgot about it during the game,” Tyson said. “Then when I looked up and I saw 16 when I was at the free throw line, I made the first one. ... Then I was nervous and I missed. I got kind of mad and Lebo took me out.”
Marrow led Hampton, which shot 28.1 percent from the field and 13.6 percent from 3, with 12 points and Barnes added 11. Astroth had a game-high 12 rebounds for HU.
Contact Tony Castleberry at firstname.lastname@example.org, 252-329-9591 and follow @tcastleberrygdr on Twitter.