NEW ORLEANS — East Carolina senior B.J. Tyson made two free throws with two seconds remaining to lift the Pirates to an 82-80 American Athletic Conference win at Tulane on Wednesday night.
Freshman Shawn Williams had 29 points as ECU managed to prevail despite the absence of Kentrell Barkley, who is averaging 12.5 points and 7.5 rebounds. Barkley was ruled out by interim coach Michael Perry for undisclosed reasons.
Isaac Fleming did not start due to recent illness but contributed 18 points on eight of 10 field goal shooting. Dimitri Spasojevic was doubtful due to an ankle injury sustained at the end of practice on Saturday but managed three points and four rebounds off the bench.
ECU, which improved to 10-14 overall and 4-9 in the AAC, had not played since a 90-73 loss at Temple on Feb. 7.
“This group is really resilient,” Perry said. “They can take a tough loss and they can come back the next day ready to work hard. … It’s good to see the ‘next man up’ mentality.”
Tulane (13-12, 4-9) had topped the Pirates 71-69 in overtime in Greenville on Jan. 31.
The Pirates led for 35 minutes and 41 seconds in the second meeting of the season, but the Green Wave pulled even at 80 on a 3-pointer by Cameron Reynolds with 29 seconds remaining.
Tyson indicated to Perry he wanted the ball on the ensuing possession and was fouled coming off a ball screen as he pulled up for a shot from just beyond the free throw line.
“We didn’t have K.B., so I had to step up and be that alpha dog,” Tyson said. “We believed in each other.”
With his mother and his 5-year-old brother making a six-hour trip from Little Rock, AR, to see him play, Williams hit nine of 10 shots from the field and five of five from the line. He dropped all six of his tries from beyond the arc.
“Just playing my game,” Williams said. “I can score the ball. The coach has confidence in me and my teammates have confidence in me. That makes it easier.”
Freshmen K.J. Davis and Justin Whatley both started and each scored four points. Graduate transfer Aaron Jackson had two points and had a game-high 12 rebounds.
“(Jackson) is my roommate on the road,” Tyson said. “He woke up this morning and said he was ready to play.”
ECU had an exceptional shooting night. The Pirates were 30 of 53 from the field (56.6 percent), 13 of 15 from the line (56.3 percent) and made nine of 16 from outside the arc (56.3 percent).
Reynolds paced Tulane with 23 points.
ECU is home Sunday for a 3 p.m. matchup with Connecticut. The Huskies topped the Pirates in 70-65 in Hartford on Jan. 6. UConn is 12-13 overall and 5-7 in the AAC going into a home game with Tulsa (14-10, 7-5) tonight.