GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP & ECU Media Relations) — Troy Caupain scored 27 points and Cincinnati withstood a late charge to beat East Carolina 65-56 on Saturday.
Cincinnati led by as many as 16 in the second half, but a 20-7 run by East Carolina over 8 1/2 minutes trimmed its deficit to two on Prince Williams’ layup with 5:33 to go. The Bearcats responded with a five-point spurt, including Jacob Evans’ 3-pointer, and kept the Pirates at bay down the stretch.
“Our kids battled awfully hard tonight,” ECU Head Coach Jeff Lebo said. “We had it right where we wanted it with four minutes to go, but couldn’t finish. We had a couple of good looks, missed a couple of foul shots and had an untimely turnover in the last four minutes.”
Caupain was 9 of 14 with four 3-pointers for Cincinnati (21-8, 11-5 American), which has won four of five and remained one game behind conference leader Temple (18-10, 12-4) with two games to play. Evans finished with 18 points and seven rebounds while Octavius Ellis added 10 points and 14 boards.
“I thought our guys really came to play today, especially since we had to makeshift without Farad Cobb and Shaq Thomas,” Cincinnati Head Coach Mick Cronin said. “We were prepared to play small and play Gary Clark at the three, which never materialized because of ECU being committed to shoot the three. We had to stay with a small lineup to be able to cover East Carolina. For us Jacob Evans and Troy Caupain kept putting the ball in the basket. Octavius Ellis continued to play great on the defensive end”
East Carolina (11-18, 3-13) was led by Williams with 18 points. Kentrell Barkley had 14 points, 13 rebounds and six assists. It was Barkley’s fourth double-double of the season.
“Kentrell Barkley was terrific I thought. He executed the game plan, scored for us, rebounded for us, made plays offensively for us and he drove the ball very well. He’s far exceeded my expectations for a freshman here. It’s to the point where I can’t take him out of the game.”
The Pirates knocked down double digit 3s for the third straight game, burying 13 of 29 outside the arc. Barkley and Williams made four apiece, while Caleb White added three and B.J. Tyson two. White and Tyson finished with 11 points each.
East Carolina returns to action on Wednesday, March 2 at USF. Tip-off is scheduled for 9 p.m. ET.