GREENVILLE — East Carolina closed pre-Christmas nonconference play with a 76-68 win over Grambling State in Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum on Thursday night.
ECU began to overcome a 31-19 deficit with a 9-0 run to close the first half.
The Pirates (6-5) went ahead to stay on a jumper by freshman Shawn Williams that provided a 54-53 lead with 8:28 remaining.
B.J. Tyson had 15 of his 20 points in the first 20 minutes. Isaac Fleming scored 18 for ECU. Dimitri Spasojevic had 14 of his 16 points in the second half and also grabbed seven rebounds.
“I knew my team needed me,” Spasojevic said. “I put in my 120 percent.”
Devante Jackson had 21 points to lead the Tigers (4-8). Ivy Smith added 20 for the visitors.
Grambling won 64-63 at Georgia Tech on Dec. 1.
“We really answered the bell in the second half in terms of playing hard,” said Michael Perry, who improved to 4-1 as interim coach of the Pirates. “That’s a heckuva gift for Christmas, but it wasn’t given to us. Our guys had to go out and get it.”
Perry said he was optimistic after two good days of practice following a 69-50 home loss to Charlotte on Monday night.
Williams had nine points. Freshman K.J. Davis had seven points and seven rebounds in 17 minutes. Jabari Craig finished with four points and five rebounds despite playing just 13 minutes due to foul trouble.
ECU was without Kentrell Barkley because of flu-like symptoms. Barkley is averaging 13.0 points and 6.9 rebounds.
The Pirates begin their American Athletic Conference schedule at Tulsa on Thursday at 5 p.m.