The difference in 3-point shooting between East Carolina and South Florida on Saturday grew in favor of USF in a timely way after halftime, resulting in ECU not able to keep up with the Bulls.
ECU rallied during the final 3 minutes, but was dealt a 69-63 basketball loss to USF in Minges Coliseum. The Bulls, who held their largest lead of 13 points with 2:49 left to play, posted a 44-37 scoring advantage after halftime, shot 50.0 percent from the field in the second half and went 6-of-10 from 3-point range.
The Pirates (7-3, 1-3 American Athletic Conference) were 4-of-20 on 3-pointers for the game. USF finished 8-for-22.
"They made four straight 3s and we put ourselves in a little bit of a pinch and had some stretches where I thought we did some really good things, but also some stretches I thought we played some really bad basketball," Pirate coach Joe Dooley said. "Tremont (Robinson-White) was great and (being shorthanded) didn't affect it. We have to play better. ... I thought defensively we did some good things, but that one stretch of 3-point shots was probably the separator."
USF (7-5, 3-3) led 67-54 with 2:49 remaining.
ECU's Tristen Newton was unavailable for the second straight game, and also backup point guard Noah Farrakhan was out injured. Newton was in the arena and near teammates in warmups and sat on the bench, but not in uniform, as he is working toward being fully cleared for game status.
Point guard Robinson-White stepped up with a career-high 29 points. He shot 9-of-14 from the field with zero assists and three of the Pirates' 11 turnovers. USF had 17 turnovers.
Here's some more notes and postgame video:
- After missing some recent practice time, Jayden Gardner (10 points, 10 rebounds) did not start for East Carolina and he was not in the lineup to begin the second half. He entered the game at the 16:49 mark.
"I already knew coming in, because I was dealing with some stuff this week with concussion protocol and some close contact stuff," Gardner said. "Coach already let me know I was coming off the bench, so that really didn't affect me and I still tried to play hard out there."
Dooley added he's hoping Gardner can practice Sunday, and, "Hoping we'll get (Newton) back soon."
- ECU led 26-25 at halftime. USF went on an 11-0 run early in the second half, reversing a 32-27 Pirate lead to a 38-32 advantage for the visitors at the 15:50 mark.
It was cut to 67-63 during the final minute. A key Pirate possession ended in a J.J. Miles missed 3 with 19 seconds left. Tyrie Jackson also missed from the outside during the final seconds, when it was still 67-63.
- The Bulls made each of their first four 3-point attempts after halftime. Left-hander Justin Brown paced USF's shooting during that stretch and for the game, finishing 3-of-5 on 3s and with 12 points. Teammate David Collins scored 16 after a scoreless outing in the Bulls' previous game.
- ECU trailed 64-52 with 3:59 remaining when Robinson-White slipped to the ground with the ball and called for timeout, but the Pirates were out of timeouts. Brown went 1-for-2 on the ensuing technical free throws for the failed timeout, and the ball returned to the Pirates.