Isaac Fleming grabbed the ball as it came off the rim just before the final buzzer sounded, securing East Carolina’s 88-85 overtime victory against Memphis on Saturday.
It was a rebound that had even greater significance than just its impact on the game. With it, Fleming became the first player in Pirates’ history to record a triple-double.
The junior transfer from Hawaii finished with 10 rebounds to go along with 11 points and 11 assists to make history and overshadow a career-best 30-point performance by freshman Shawn Williams.
“When I go home and wake up tomorrow I’ll probably be like, ‘Dang, I really did just do that.’” Fleming said after the game. “It’s unreal right now. I’m just happy we pulled the win out, knowing that we went into overtime last game and couldn’t do it.”
It was the second straight game ECU took to overtime. Earlier in the week, the Pirates lost to Tulane. This time, they changed the result to win for just the second time in their last six games.
Although Williams carried most of the scoring load in the extra period, Fleming took care of the rebounding chores by pulling down four of his 10 in overtime.
In all, the 6-foot-3 guard played 41 minutes, going 5 of 13 from the floor while committing only two turnovers.
“That’s saying a lot about him,” ECU interim coach Michael Perry said. “Anytime I think about Isaac Fleming, the first thing I think about is what doesn’t show up on the stat sheet. He’s our best defensive player. He often gets the best offensive player on the other team.
“I go into a game feeling very confident with him guarding the other team’s best player. But offensively, when a guy can be celebrated for getting a triple-double — because that speaks of team play — that’s a big deal. That’s a big number that you really want to applaud.”
Fleming averages 12.1 points, 5.0 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game in this, his first season with the Pirates.
For his effort Saturday, he was awarded ECU’s “Junkyard Dog” chain, an honor presented each game to the player that makes the biggest all-around contribution to the team. He was still wearing it around his neck during the postgame press conference.
“You have to do a lot to get this,” Fleming said. “This is my first time getting it this year, so I’m going to have this around my neck for a couple of hours.”