East Carolina snaps six-game losing streak at expense of UConn
Greenville, N.C. — Every college basketball player dreams of having a career game on his Senior Night, and East Carolina's Caleb White certainly didn't disappoint in his finale at Minges Coliseum.
The 6-foot-7 forward poured in a career-high 28 points in his final home game, leading East Carolina to a 66-62 upset of UConn on Wednesday night.
White's previous high was 22 points. Kentrell Barkley added 18 points for ECU.
Kentan Facey had 12 points and 11 rebounds to lead four Huskies in double figures.
ECU (14-16, 6-11 American Athletic Conference) snapped a six-game losing streak in the series and beat the Huskies (14-15, 9-8) for the first time in two meetings in Greenville. UConn leads the series 6-2.
Raleigh, North Carolina, native Rodney Purvis and Jalen Adams added 12 points each for UConn, while Vance Jackson chipped in 10. The Huskies were forced to play without reserve freshman guard Christian Vital, who missed the game with a reported concussion.
UConn won the first meeting 72-65 on Jan. 22.
Michael Perry directed the Pirates bench for the 11th straight game in place of head coach Jeff Lebo, who has been out since hip replacement surgery on Jan. 16.
"The guys can see how close we are to being with the teams at the top of the league, and that's where we want to be," said Perry, who is in his 10th season with the program and previously spent four seasons as head coach at Georgia State. "This is another step toward being a championship contender in this league. UConn may not be as good record-wise as they've been, but they're going to be back. That's one of the best programs in the country."
Before the game, Lebo announced in a press release the indefinite suspension of junior forward Jabari Craig for violations of team rules. Craig was averaging 1.0 points and 2.0 rebounds per game.
UConn: The Huskies are going to need an upset over visiting Cincinnati to improve their seed in next week's AAC Tournament in Hartford. A win over the Pirates would have given them the inside track for the No. 5 seed and a first-round bye.
"We've just got to get some things corrected for Sunday," UConn coach Kevin Ollie said. "We don't expect anyone to shoot that well from 3 (ECU was 12 for 28). They were getting a lot of open looks and getting a lot of open shots."
ECU: The Pirates improved to 5-6 without Lebo on the bench as they look for a positive conclusion to the season. ECU had already clinched a better finish both overall and in conference play than they had last season.
White hit 7 of 13 3-point attempts and was 5 for 5 from the free-throw line with four rebounds, two assists and no turnovers. Barkley had a trio of 3-pointers and eight rebounds and scored in double figures for his 11th straight game. Facey was just 2 for 7 from the floor, but 8 for 14 from the line with seven defensive and four offensive rebounds.
"I just wanted to make something happen tonight," Barkley said. "It didn't have to be scoring as long as I was involved and got my teammates involved."
White now has 1,545 career points and is in fourth place on the Pirates' all-time list, 108 behind Sonny Russell (1953). Facey had double-doubles in both games against East Carolina this season, scoring 13 with 10 rebounds in their game in Connecticut.
"I prayed a lot, and just tried to treat this as much as I could like another game," White said. "I just kept shooting. Pretty much all of my shots felt good, but it started to slow down a little later. I thought I was going to cry when I walked off the court. I didn't yet, but it's going to hit me at some point."
UConn: Hosts Cincinnati in Storrs on Sunday in the regular-season finale.
ECU: Visits Houston on Sunday in the regular-season finale.