GREENVILLE — Tristen Newton got East Carolina into overtime on a 3-pointer with two seconds left in regulation and scored 14 of the Pirates’ 17 points in the extra period as ECU won its American Athletic Conference opener, 88-80, over Tulane in Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum on Wednesday night.
The Pirates improved to 10-3 overall and 9-0 at home going into a Saturday matchup at 2 p.m. at Temple (8-6, 1-2 AAC) as Newton scored a career-high 32 points.
Newton had just four points in the first half but ECU led, 43-37, at the break.
“My teammates had confidence in me,” Newton said. “They told me to keep shooting.”
Newton made 11 of 19 field goal tries, including five of nine from beyond the arc. He was 5-for-6 at the line. He also had five rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Brandon Johnson and Brandon Suggs each had double-doubles. Johnson scored 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Suggs had 12 points and 11 assists.
Vance Jackson added 11 points in the victory and J.J. Miles tallied 10.
The Pirates had not played since rallying for a 68-67 home win over Southern Miss on Dec, 21 because a number of ECU players were out due to COVID protocols. Ludgy Debaut, Alanzo Frink and Marlon Lestin were not available against the Green Wave (5-7, 2-1 AAC).
Tulane got 24 points from Jaylen Forbes and 19 from Jalen Cook. Kevin Cross contributed 17 points and 11 rebounds. A 15-foot jump hook by Cross rimmed out at the regulation buzzer.
The contest went into the extra period tied at 71.
“Tristen bailed us out and made some unbelievable plays,” said Pirates coach Joe Dooley. “Cross put us in some tough spots and Forbes is a tough matchup. We could have folded a couple of times, but the guys stuck with it and we got some timely stops.”
The visitors did not score in the last 2:26 of overtime. Newton put ECU ahead to stay at 81-80 on a jumper with 1:49 left.