GREENVILLE — Caleb White searched for answers while his shooting touch took a vacation during portions of the season.
White couldn’t explain its absence and said he had “no clue” when he found the range again on Senior Night.
The Pirates hit Connecticut with a left — 28 points from White — and another left — 18 points from another southpaw, Kentrell Barkley — and stunned storied Connecticut 66-62 before a pumped-up crowd of 4,354 in Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum Wednesday night.
Seniors Michel Nzege, Andre Washington and White were recognized before their final regular-season home game.
“It’s kind of weird that I’ll never play with these guys in Minges again,” Nzege said. “It hasn’t hit me yet.”
Coach Jeff Lebo made an appearance for the pregame ceremony although he has been limited since mid-January by a left hip replacement. Michael Perry continued to coach the Pirates on an interim basis.
“(Lebo) gave me an embrace in the locker room,” White said. “That was pretty special.”
The Pirates (14-16, 6-11 AAC) didn’t look as though they would rise to the occasion as the Huskies (14-15, 9-8) appeared to be sufficiently poised with a 23-13 lead with 6:30 left in the half.
“The guys are resilient,” Perry said. “It starts with that. We told them to stay with the game plan and things are going to fall in place.”
ECU was within 32-28 at the half but the Huskies came out of the break to lead 36-28 with 18:41 remaining.
Facing a 43-38 deficit, the Pirates embarked on a 14-0 run that had the building rocking.
The Huskies had some dog fight left and responded with a 10-0 spree to lead 53-52 on a 3-point hoop and free throw by N.C. State transfer Rodney Purvis with 7:11 to go.
What made this game different from the Pirates standpoint was that they made winning plays down the stretch.
“We’ve let some games get away, like Central Florida, but we’ve learned from it,” Perry said.
ECU used a 9-0 run as the impetus to victory. The Huskies were within 63-62 after a free throw by Washington with 1:05 left but the Pirates were able to celebrate by getting defensive rebounds and hitting enough free throws down the stretch.
Freshman Jeremy Sheppard hit one free throw with 4.8 seconds left for the final margin.
Sheppard had eight points, five assists and three steals. Washington had four points, six rebounds and two blocked shots, finishing the game with four fouls.
Elijah Hughes had four points and two assists. Barkley had eight rebounds. Deng Riak also grabbed eight. Nzege had two points and five rebounds.
Barkley said it wasn’t as loud as when his late score lifted the Pirates past Temple last year, “but it was the loudest this year.”
Perry heard something, too.
“This speaks volumes about where we’ve come from and where we’re heading,” said the interim coach.
ECU visits Houston for a 4 p.m. tipoff on Sunday to close the regular season.
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