ORLANDO, Fla. – Angel Nunez’s 19 points and 11 rebounds for the No. 9 seed University of South Florida were enough for a 71-66 victory to end the season for the East Carolina Panthers on Thursday afternoon at the AAC Championship in the Amway Centre.
East Carolina (12-19, 4-13 in the conference) was led in scoring by BJ Tyson who put up 19 points on 8-23 shooting.
They also got significant contribution from big man Michael Zangari who had a double double with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
The rival University of South Florida (7-22, 4-14) were led by Nunez and forward Chris Perry who had 18 points off the bench for the Bulls.
ECU had significant shooting woes in the second half, starting 0-6 from three point land before Lance Tejada made one at the 6:56 mark bringing his point total up to 12 points for the game.
The game was tied at 42 with eight minutes left in the game, but ECU was outscored 29-24 from then on.
ECU brought the deficit down to three with 13 seconds left but couldn’t get any closer.
The first half started with East Carolina coming out cold from the field. ECU struggled in the paint early on, getting out rebounded 23-20 and having five of their shots blocked.
They shot 11-32 overall in the first half. Tejada led East Carolina in scoring with 9 points, going 3-3 from three-point land.
Michel Nzege led the Pirates on the backboards in the first half with 5 rebounds. Kentrell Barkley, All-Rookie Team Conference member, and Prince Williams, Most Improved Conference player both had issues in the first half shooting a combined 2-8 from the field, with 6 points between them.
East Carolina was playing without the team’s second leading scorer, Caleb White. Lance Tejada replaced White in the starting lineup for the Pirates.
East Carolina head coach, Jeff Lebo falls short of his 100th career win with the team.
USF will face the No. 1 seed Temple University at noon Saturday in round two.