Saturday, February 3, 2018

East Carolina 88, Tigers 85 (OT)

Posted By on Sat, Feb 3, 2018 at 3:38 PM

An up-and-down season for the Tigers may have hit rock bottom Saturday in Greenville, North Carolina. An East Carolina team ranked 351st in three-point shooting — that's last in the country – hit 11 of 24 shots from long range (including two in overtime) to beat Memphis for only its third American Athletic Conference win of the season, and first against a team other than the league's cellar-dweller, USF.

Pirate guard Shawn Williams scored a season-high 30 points and hit six of ten three-point attempts to help ECU improve to 9-13 on the season (3-8 in the AAC). Williams hit two three-pointers in the overtime session and drained all four of his free throws with less than a minute to play to secure the victory.

Junior point guard Jeremiah Martin missed a pair of three-point attempts on the Tigers' final possession of the game that would have tied the contest. Martin scored a career-high 33 points and fueled a Memphis comeback from 10 points down (51-41) early in the second half. But he also missed a pair of free throws in the final five minutes of overtime that proved critical.

Tiger forward Kyvon Davenport drew a foul on a leaner with six seconds to play in regulation and Memphis down 77-76. But with a chance to give the Tigers the lead, he missed the first free throw before making the second to force overtime. Freshman guard Jamal Johnson missed a pair of three-point attempts in the overtime period, the first to give Memphis a lead, the second to tie.

Mike Parks scored 13 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, one of two Tigers to post a double-double (Davenport had 16 points and 10 boards).

The loss drops Memphis to 14-9 (5-5 in the AAC) and almost surely eliminates the Tigers from the possibility of an NIT bid. Should the U of M miss out on postseason play a fourth straight season, it would be the longest drought since the four-year period from 1977-78 to 1980-81. Barring an attention-grabbing upset — Wichita State visits FedExForum Tuesday night — or deep run in the AAC tournament next month, Tiger coach Tubby Smith's first two years in Memphis will end short of the postseason, just like his first two seasons at Texas Tech.

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