NEW ORLEANS — Jordan Walker made all six of his free throws in the final 35 seconds to help Tulane hold off East Carolina for a 60-56 American Athletic Conference win on Saturday.
The Green Wave (6-2, 1-2 AAC) made 20 of 23 from the line compared to six of seven for the Pirates (7-2, 1-2).
ECU was without guard Tristen Newton, who is averaging 4.5 assists per game, presumably because of a positive COVID test. In Newton’s absence, the Pirates committed 21 turnovers compared to 12 for the hosts.
“Absolutely horrendous,” said coach Joe Dooley afterward on the Pirate radio network. “I was very disappointed with the way we played. We’ve got to do a better job of preparing these guys.”
Citing the disparity in free throws and turnovers, Dooley added, “I’m amazed that we were even able to hang around.”
ECU had topped Tulane, 68-58, in Greenville in the last game for both teams on Dec. 22.
Jayden Gardner had 21 points and 10 rebounds in the first meeting, but was limited to five points on Saturday. Gardner didn’t have a field goal until dropping a 3-pointer with two seconds left to draw the Pirates within 58-56.
“We didn’t move the ball like we needed to and our activity level from A to Z wasn’t what it needed to be,” Dooley said. “We were a little lethargic, but when you turn it over 21 times — that’s 21 times you don’t get to shoot the ball.”
ECU overcame a 9-point deficit at 39-30 to close within a point, at 51-50, as J.J. Miles dropped a 12-footer with 1:40 to go.
“We were right there,” Dooley said. “We had every opportunity.”
Freshman Sion James rattled in a hoop from the right corner for the first 3-pointer of his college career to put the Wave up 54-50 with 1:18 remaining.
“A big play in a late-clock situation,” Dooley said.
Brandon Suggs led the Pirates with 14 points and eight rebounds. Miles had 11 points. Tyrie Jackson had five assists and Tremont Robinson-White had four. Gardner controlled seven rebounds.
Tulane was paced by Jaylen Forbes with 20 points and five steals.
Dooley said ECU would get to work in practice this week for its next game, a home contest with South Florida on Saturday at 1 p.m.