TAMPA — South Florida overcame an 11-2 deficit and notched its first American Athletic Conference victory of the season, 64-57, over East Carolina at the Sun Dome on Saturday night.
Geno Thorpe led the Bulls (7-17, 1-12 AAC) with 22 points and eight assists.
ECU (11-14, 3-9) had a 12-2 run to get within 50-46 on a 3-pointer by Elijah Hughes. The Pirates trailed 60-55 after a three by Jeremy Sheppard with 38 seconds to go but couldn’t complete the comeback.
The struggling Bulls seized momentum and gained some confidence with a 31-11 run that provided a 33-22 lead at the half.
ECU fell to 0-9 in road games this season.
“Teams aren’t going to give it to you,” said interim Pirates coach Michael Perry. “You’ve got to take it on the road. We have to get mentally tough on the road.”
The Bulls led 22-2 in points off turnovers. ECU had topped USF 60-49 at home on Dec. 28 but struggled against a 3-2 zone from the hosts in the second meeting.
Freshman Jeremy Sheppard hit five of nine shots from beyond the arc and led the Pirates with 17 points. Kentrell Barkley had 12 points and 12 rebounds. Caleb White added 12 points.
Andre Washington had 10 rebounds and blocked a pair of shots. Hughes finished with seven points.
It was the first win for the Bulls under Murry Bartow, who became interim coach on Jan. 3 after the dismissal of Orlando Antigua.
ECU returns home to take on Temple on Wednesday at 7 p.m. The Owls turned back the Pirates 81-62 in Philadelphia on Jan. 7.