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February 21, 2013

Tulsa misses opportunity in loss to ECU

Tulsa led by five late in the second half against ECU, but a late collapse doomed the Golden Hurricane in a 72-63 loss at home to the Pirates.

"East Carolina came out and threw the first punch and we didn't recover too well," said Tulsa head coach Danny Manning. "They were more aggressive than us in the first half and we were able to go on a little bit of the run and get within striking distance at halftime. We came back out in the second half and we went on a run, and it becomes a nip and tuck game. Then Akeem Richmond shakes loose for two threes back-to-back and that put us behind the eight-ball and we weren't able to get back from that.

"I have to give East Carolina credit to come in and get a road win, but for us, this was a game we really wanted. We're in a dog fight in the conference standings and it would have been nice to have the tie-breaker with East Carolina."

Maurice Kemp scored 23 points and East Carolina rode a game-ending 21-7 run to the victory on Wednesday night.

Kemp, who came in averaging a conference-leading 18 points per game, was 9 of 14 from the floor for the Pirates (15-10, 6-6), who pulled into a tie with Tulsa for fifth place in the C-USA standings. Akeem Richmond added 17 points and Ty Armstrong had 13.

Scottie Haralson had 20 points for the Golden Hurricane (14-12, 6-6), who led 56-51 after Haralson's jumper with 6:41 to play. But Richmond scored nine straight points on three 3-pointers to put East Carolina ahead to stay, and the Pirates made six free throws in the final minute to secure the victory.

ECU led by as many as 14 early before a second-half rally by Tulsa, which was coming off a 101-92, triple-overtime victory over Houston on Saturday.

TU didn't help itself from the charity stripe in the loss, making just 6 of 19 free throws.

"When you shoot 32-percent from the free throw line, it's hard to beat anybody," said Manning. "You look at the stat sheet and we have more points in the paint, we have more points off of turnovers, we have more second chance points, we have more fast break points. Their bench hurt us and the free throw line hurt us, among other things.

"I don't want to take any credit away from East Carolina and what Jeff Lebo did, but we just have to step up to the free throw line and shoot our free throws and make them. Also knowing the scouting report, knowing where the shooters are. We lost Richmond far too many times. He had 11 threes coming off the bench. That's far too many when we know he's a shooter going into the game."

Tulsa played without freshman point guard Rashad Ray, who had come on strong recently.

"We missed him," said Manning. "We missed his presence, but we had our opportunities to win the game and do some different things to be successful and we didn't capitalize on those things when we had them."

The Hurricane will next travel to face Central Florida this weekend.

"Central Florida is a really great team," Manning described. "You know, no one feels sorry for us, or cares about our hardships, and we don't care about anybody else's. Not trying to be mean or hateful, that's just how it is in competitive athletics. We just have to lick our wounds and get ready to go fight, because our back is up against the wall right now in terms of the conference race and where we want to be at the end of that race."

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