TULSA, OK — East Carolina couldn’t keep pace with Tulsa in the second half of the American Athletic Conference opener for both clubs on Thursday evening as the Golden Hurricane won, 79-53.
The Pirates (6-6) were within 31-27 at intermission before Tulsa (8-5) started the second half on a 10-2 run.
The Golden Hurricane had a 17-0 flurry later in the last period.
Junior Etou had 20 points to lead the win, surpassing the 1,000-point scoring plateau for his career. Etou also had 14 rebounds.
B.J. Tyson had 17 points and 10 rebounds for his first career double-double for the Pirates.
Freshman Shawn Williams had 12 points for ECU, which made 21 of 66 on its field goal attempts for 31.8 percent.
The Pirates were six for 28 beyond the arc for 21.4 percent and made five of seven at the line, 71.4 percent.
The hosts shot 30 of 71 from the floor for 42.3 percent, including nine for 27 on 3-pointers, 33.3 percent. The Golden Hurricane was 10 for 16 on free throws for 62.5 percent.
Isaac Fleming had eight assists for the Pirates.
Dimitri Spasojevic had six points in the loss. Kentrell Barkley had eight rebounds and Jabari Craig pulled down seven as Tulsa had a 49-43 rebounding advantage.
Barkley returned after missing a 76-68 home win over Grambling State on Dec. 21 due to illness. He didn’t start against the Golden Hurricane but played 26 minutes before fouling out.
Williams made his first career start.
ECU had 13 turnovers compared to just five for its foes.
The Pirates continue league play on Sunday, hosting Central Florida at 4 p.m.
The Knights (9-4) are coming off a 56-51 loss in their first AAC game at Southern Methodist on Wednesday night.