2007 C-USA Basketball Tournament Recap: #5 Tulsa 65 - #12 ECU 50
Golden Hurricane Blows Into Quarterfinals With 65-50 Win Over ECU
In the final game of day one at the CUSA Tournament, fifth-seeded Tulsa cruised to a 65-50 victory over No. 12 seed East Carolina.
The Golden Hurricane (20-10, 10-7) struggled during the middle of the conference season, but has now won five of its last six contests after Wednesday night’s triumph over ECU. Doug Wojcik, who is in his second season in Tulsa, has produced a turnaround that will likely result in a NIT bid.
The Pirates (6-24, 1-16), who endured a very trying season under second year head coach Ricky Stokes, have struggled to shoot the basketball well the entire season and Wednesday night was no different. After showing some improvement in that area in their last couple outings while being bit by the turnover bug, ECU returned to its old ways in its loss to Tulsa. The Pirates protected the ball in this game, committing only seven miscues, but they shot only 33 percent (19-of-58) from the floor and 43.7 (7-of-16) from the charity stripe.
Both teams started slowly. The Pirates’ John Fields knotted the game at six with 13:15 remaining.
ECU trailed by only three (16-13) after a Corey Farmer jumper at the 8:39 mark. However, Calvin Walls’ three-point play capped a 10-0 Tulsa run that pushed the Pirates’ deficit to 13 (26-13) with just less than five minutes to play before halftime.
The Golden Hurricane extended its lead to a first half high 16 following a Ray Reese trifecta.
Once again, Courtney Captain did everything he could to keep his team in the game. The Pirates’ senior guard knocked down back-to-back trifectas to trim the lead to 10 at 31-21 with just over two minutes to go before the break.
After trailing 34-21 at intermission, Ricky Stokes’ club started the second half strong. It used a 15-10 spurt to pull within eight at 44-36 with nearly 13 minutes to play.
That is as close as ECU would get. Tulsa stretched its lead out to as many as 17, as it led 61-44 with just over five minutes remaining in the game following Charles Ramsdell’s lone basket of the night.
The Golden Hurricane’s depth was too much for the razor thin Pirates. Wojcik’s line-up featured nine players logging more than 14 minutes while there were also many mismatches that ECU attempted to handle. Tulsa’s bench outscored ECU’s, 29-4. This was largely the result of a team-high 15 points by Calvin Walls.
Third team All-CUSA guard Rod Earls finished the night with 13 points, connecting on 3-of-4 attempts from behind the arc. Brett McDade totaled nine points while all-freshman guard Ben Uzoh had eight points and five boards.
The Golden Hurricane held a 43-31 advantage on the glass.
"Give Tulsa a lot of credit. For us to have a chance, we knew we had to rebound the ball better,” said ECU head coach Ricky Stokes.
TU shot nearly 50 percent (25-of-51) in the game, but it did commit 14 turnovers.
Senior guard Courtney Captain concluded his East Carolina career by scoring a game-high 27 points, which included a 5-of-9 effort from long range.
Once again, he did not receive enough assistance, as he was the only Pirate to score in double figures.
"He was the only guy who could really score tonight and he did a good job defensively on Rod Earls,” said Stokes.
All-freshman center John Fields totaled eight points and eight rebounds while fellow freshman Gabe Blair concluded his initial campaign in the purple and gold with a seven point, eight rebound, three block-effort.
After the game, East Carolina head coach Ricky Stokes thanked the great Pirate fans for sticking with the program through thick and thin.
The Pirates underwent a very challenging season, but they were able to get a lot of young players valuable experience that will pay dividends in the future.
"We're taking our lumps now, but you watch out here soon,” commented a determined Ricky Stokes following ECU’s loss on Wednesday night.
Tulsa advances to Thursday’s quarterfinals where it will meet fourth-seeded Tulane. The Golden Hurricane defeated the Green Wave in New Orleans on a last-second three in the team’s lone meeting of the season.