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Huskies hold off ECU rally

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East Carolina's B.J. Tyson moves the ball during a game against Cleveland State on Nov. 20, 2017.

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The Daily Reflector

Saturday, January 6, 2018

East Carolina showed plenty of fight in Saturday’s American Athletic Conference clash at Connecticut between 7-7 teams, but the host Huskies were just sharp enough to survive late in the second half of their 70-65 victory at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn.

With ECU (7-8, 1-3 AAC) trailing 68-62 with 24 seconds left, guard Shawn Williams was fouled behind the three-point line and knocked down all three shots to cut the UConn lead to 68-65, giving ECU one last shot to tie the game. But B.J. Tyson’s 3-pointer attempt with 3 seconds to play did not fall.

The loss soured a 21-point outing for Tyson, who was complemented by 13 points from Kentrell Barkley, 12 from Dimitri Spasojevic and 11 from Shawn Williams. Tyson and Barkley grabbed seven rebounds each.

The Huskies (8-7, 1-2) got big performances late from leading scorers Jalen Adams (18), Christian Vital 16 and Terry Larrier (16).

UConn opened the second half on a brief run, but Tyson’s trey with 15:13 left to play kept it a one-point game at 39-38. Then it was a big 3-pointer and a steal and dunk by Barkley to keep ECU in the hunt down 46-43 near the midway point of the second.

The Pirates went more than 4 minutes without a point after that, though the Huskies were not much better, holding a 50-45 edge with 7:45 to play. Barkley knifed inside to make it 50-47, but the Huskies rallied again.

Barkley hit two free throws and Spasojevic scored inside but it was not enough to overcome four-point swings by Isaiah Whaley and Larrier, whose dunk with 4:29 to play made it 59-51 UConn.

A Williams jumper with 2:21 to play cut the Huskies’ lead back to six at 61-55. Isaac Fleming’s 3-pointer with 1:24 remaining made it 65-60 and his layup made it 67-62, but each time the Pirates scored at one end, UConn answered at the other, including multiple late layups by Larrier and Adams to help the hosts survive.

ECU trailed by double digits early in the game before Tyson and Williams helped spark a resounding rally to make it a one-point game, 32-21 UConn, at the half.

The Huskies stormed out to a 16-4 lead in the opening 10 minutes of the game thanks in large part to some woeful ECU shooting, and the hosts quickly parlayed that advantage into a 20-12 edge with less than 8 minutes before halftime.

As he did in a road win over South Florida on Wednesday, however, Williams came off the bench and promptly canned a 3-pointer to trim the deficit back to seven at 24-17, and it once again gave rise to a Pirate point surge. Tyson followed with a jumper before Jabari Craig scored inside and suddenly it was 24-21.

Spasojevic was then sprung inside by Tyson for two to cap a 10-0 ECU run and make it 24-23 Huskies with 3:44 left before the break.

Williams bagged another 3 to steer ECU into the lead briefly, 28-26, and extend the Pirate run to 16-6. A Tyson layup in the final minute made it 31-30 Pirates before Larrier’s final bucket gave the Huskies a scant one-point edge at the intermission.

Tyson scored six of his team’s first 10 points in the game and finished the half with a team-high 12 points, followed by six apiece from Williams and Spasojevic.

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