UConn beats ECU 84-80 despite Fleming’s triple-double
GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP) — Connecticut put together one of its best offensive performances of the season. The Huskies needed it, because East Carolina’s Isaac Fleming came up with another triple-double.
UConn beat the Pirates 84-80 on Sunday despite the do-it-all ECU guard.
Jalen Adams scored 26 points, Terry Larrier added 20 points and Christian Vital finished with 16 to help the Huskies (13-14, 6-8 American Athletic Conference) snap a two-game losing streak. They shot 58.2 percent and hit 13 3-pointers — both season highs — in their highest-scoring performance since a double-overtime, 90-88 loss to Tulsa on Jan. 3.
“We made shots. We’ve just got to get better defensively, and we’ve got to rebound the ball better,” UConn coach Kevin Ollie said.
Only twice has an ECU player finished with a triple-double — and both belong to Fleming in the past month. He finished with 13 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists for the Pirates (10-15, 4-10).
“It shows that he’s getting better as a player,” ECU interim coach Michael Perry said. “He’s an interesting kid because he’s got a lot of moxie, as you can see on the floor. Just getting him to harness that and put that energy in the right areas. ... As he begins to do that, you’re going to see a better overall basketball game, and it’s happening for him.”
Shawn Williams added 26 points, and his deep 3-pointer — his seventh of the game — pulled ECU to 82-80 with 15.6 seconds left.
Adams hit two free throws with 14.7 seconds remaining, and after B.J. Tyson left a layup short with about six seconds remaining, Tyler Polley grabbed the defensive rebound that effectively sealed it.
Connecticut: The Huskies’ offense certainly found its groove, lighting it up from long range against an East Carolina team that entered as the league’s third-best at defending the arc. Now the challenge is stringing a few of these performances together and finding a way to salvage the year once postseason play begins.
East Carolina: Fleming and Williams once again proved themselves as a pair of solid building blocks for the Pirates’ next permanent coach, with Perry finishing up the season after Jeff Lebo stepped down in November. Fleming also had a triple-double Feb. 3 against Memphis and Williams has been the team’s top scorer in conference play.
The Huskies also matched a season high with 18 assists, and Antwoine Anderson led the way with seven. “We’ve been looking for that all year, and you’ve got to make shots to do that,” Ollie said. “We wrote on the board: ‘Selfless.’ Selfless is giving up a good shot for a great shot.”
Both teams set season highs from 3-point range, with each team hitting 13. East Carolina entered as the AAC’s worst team from 3-point range but made its first five attempts from beyond the arc. The teams combined to take 10 straight 3s to open the game.
Connecticut: The Huskies hit the road for a Thursday night rematch with No. 5 Cincinnati, which beat UConn 65-57 on Feb. 3.
East Carolina: The Pirates play host to SMU on Wednesday night.
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