TULSA, Okla. (AP) - Scottie Haralson scored 22 points, James Woodard added 17 and Tulsa has a date with top seeded Memphis in the Conference USA tournament semifinals with a 79-72 win over East Carolina on Thursday night.
"Last year we lost in the first round, and I just want to prolong my career as long as I can," said Haralson. "I know my team, and our goal is to win a conference championship. We just wanted to leave it all on the floor tonight. That is what we said in the locker room at half time, so that's what I went out and did."
Tulsa (17-14) led 14-6 midway through the first half but watched the Pirates use a 24-11 rally to take a 30-25 lead at halftime. It wasn't until Pat Swilling Jr. hit a 3-pointer with 2:35 to go before Tulsa was able to regain the lead at 66-65. The Golden Hurricane never trailed again.
"The first half was a struggle for us," said Tulsa coach Danny Manning. "East Carolina was very aggressive. They put the ball wherever they wanted to. They kicked the ball out to their shooters, and they were very effective. We did a few things in the first half to stick around. We played a lot better in the second half. We shot the ball better, and that gave us a chance to win the game.
"Our biggest keys were doing well on the glass and not turning the ball over. Having said that, our guys still went out there and were aggressive offensively. We tried to get the ball into the paint, draw fouls, and go to the free throw line. We did an outstanding job of that tonight."
Shaquille Harrison had 12 points and D'Andre Wright scored 10 points and grabbed seven rebounds off the bench for Tulsa.
Maurice Kemp led East Carolina (18-12) with 24 points, 11 rebounds and five assists.
"The biggest thing for us was East Carolina's foul trouble," said Coach Manning. "One of their players fouled out, and he was a pretty big player. We just tried to extend the pressure to make them play physically. We tried to trap (Miguel) Paul and make other players come up and get the ball. To their credit, they were mobbing the ball around and making shots. Akeem Richmond was making shots, and we knew he was a good shooter. Those guys hit some clutch shots early in the game. We just tried to stay honed in on them in the second half and take the ball out of Paul's hand."
Tulsa will play No. 1 Memphis on Friday for a chance to play in the C-USA title game Saturday. The Golden Hurricane lost to Memphis 94-64 in their only matchup of the season Feb. 2.
"Memphis is the best team in our league," said Manning. "They have the player of the year, coach of the year, defensive player of the year. There is not much more you can say. They are a talented team. We look forward to the challenge of going out and playing them."