GWU drops 62-60 decision to East Carolina
A pair of free-throws in the last 25 seconds of the game halted a comeback for the Gardner-Webb men’s basketball team.
Neither GWU nor East Carolina were able to score a field goal in the final five minutes of the game as the Pirates hit eight free-throws to come away with a 62-60 win.
Donta Harper led four players in double figures for Gardner-Webb with 14 points. Kevin Hartley (12 points), Max Landis (12 points) and Tashan Newsome (10 points) also reached that mark, as GWU was forced to overcome a slow start shooting the basketball to give the Pirates (7-2) difficulty on their home court.
Gardner-Webb held East Carolina without a basket for the game’s final 9:50 and took its first lead of the night on a Harper dunk with 6:14 left to go up 55-53. Harper then extended the lead to 58-54 in a short jumper from the left wing with 5:02 left in the game.
Neither team would make a field goal the rest of the way.
East Carolina pulled within 58-56 on a pair of Robert Sampson free throws with 4:05 left and — after a pair of empty trips for both teams — tied the score at 58 on a pair of Miguel Paul free throws with 1:50 left. An offensive foul call on Harper with 1:19 left gave the Pirates another chance to go in front, and Maurice Kemp knocked down one of two free throws for a 59-58 advantage.
A shot clock violation by Gardner-Webb and a pair of free throws by Paul on the other end with 25.8 seconds left appeared to dash any chance at a win for the Runnin’ Bulldogs, but Chris Holtmann’s squad fought hard to give itself a chance. Kevin Hartley rebounded a missed three and was fouled with 13.7 seconds left, pulling GWU within two.
After Maurice Kemp missed a pair of free throws on the other end with 8.1 seconds left, Newsome was fouled driving to the basket. The redshirt senior made the first, but the second fell just off the rim. After a wild final 1.6 seconds that saw another change of possession, Roberts-Campbell made his free throw to seal the game.
East Carolina seized control of the game early, jumping out a 20-8 lead and taking advantage of cold Gardner-Webb shooting in the early going. The Runnin’ Bulldogs missed 17 of their first 21 shots (19 percent) as ECU built its biggest lead on an Akeem Richmond trey with just over eight minutes left.
Gardner-Webb responded with a 10-0 run to force a Pirates’ timeout with 5:34 left before halftime. Gardner-Webb kept within striking distance the rest of the half, cutting the lead to 26-25 on a three-pointer by Jarvis Davis with 2:14 on the clock. The Pirates came back with a 6-0 run, however, capping that spurt on a follow shot by Maurice Kemp after a missed free throw with one minute left, and another follow off a blocked shot by Roberts-Campbell with 31 seconds left for a 32-25 lead.
Newsome hit a pair of free throws with 19.1 seconds left before intermission to cut the lead to 32-27. East Carolina shot 57.7 percent from the floor in the half, and Gardner-Webb finished at just 25.8 percent – yet the Runnin’ Bulldogs trailed by only five.
Kemp paced East Carolina with 22 points and nine rebounds and was the only Pirate in double figures.
Gardner-Webb shot 48.0 percent (12-of-25) in the second half and finished at 35.7 percent for the game. The Runnin’ Bulldogs did have one of their best nights shooting from long distance, making 9-of-18 shots from long range. Landis (4-of-8) and Hartley (3-of-4) were most effective. Newsome also knocked down a trey, and finished with a team-high eight rebounds.
East Carolina cooled in the second half, shooting 33.3 percent – but made 14 of 24 free throws in the final 20 minutes. Nine of those made free throws came in the final 4:05 of the game. The Pirates got 15 rebounds from Sampson, but were battled to a draw on the glass by the Runnin’ Bulldogs (35-35).
Gardner-Webb will return home to face Spalding (Ky.) on Saturday afternoon at 4:30 in its final game before Christmas.
Gardner-Webb and East Carolina sports information contributed to this report