GREENVILLE — Memphis took advantage of East Carolina’s personnel shortage and lack of preparation time to build a 49-18 halftime lead en route to an 80-53 American Athletic Conference win on Sunday in Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum.
“We won’t make excuses because everybody is going through this same thing,” said acting coach Steve Roccaforte. “But it’s not easy.”
Sitting out for ECU were players J.J. Miles, Tyrie Jackson and Charles Coleman from the normal rotation as well as coach Joe Dooley. The trio combines for 15.8 points per game, led by Miles with a 10.4 average.
ECU had not had a game since Jan. 9 and was playing for only the third time in 33 days. Memphis was playing its third game in eight days.
From a tie at 10, the Tigers went on a decisive 18-2 run that was capped by a Moussa Cisse dunk with 8:12 left in the half.
Cisse led the Tigers with 15 points and nine rebounds in 24 minutes before fouling out.
Boogie Ellis had 11 points and DeAndre Williams added 10 for Memphis (8-5, 4-2 AAC).
Roccaforte thought the Pirates (7-4, 1-4) could play more zone, but the visitors made eight of 15 from beyond the arc in the first 20 minutes.
Tremont Robinson-White led ECU with 15 points. Brandon Suggs scored 11. Jayden Gardner had 10 points, all in the second half, and a game-high 11 rebounds. Tristen Newton returned to action with 10 points.
Roccaforte said he divided the game into four-minute segments for the second half.
“I think we won four of five of those,” he said.
The Pirates had a 35-31 scoring edge after intermission.
Roccaforte said he thought Dooley would be back for a game at Central Florida on Wednesday (ESPN+, 7 p.m.), but he wasn’t certain.