After defeating Tulane University in a nail biter 66-65 on Thursday, the East Carolina University men’s basketball team went to Hartford, Connecticut and got blown out 52-76 by the University of Connecticut on Sunday.
ECU (9-12, 2-7 AAC) and UConn (13-9, 4-5 AAC) have had a history of close matchups that were decided in the end by less than seven points dating back two years ago to Jan. 22, 2017. Both teams have dealt with coaching changes that resulted in new head coaches to the start the season, head coach Joe Dooley for the Pirates and head coach Dan Hurley for the Huskies.
UConn leads the all-time series between the two programs 12-2, with the last ECU win against the team coming on March 1, 2017 when the Pirates won 66-62 at home. The Huskies were favored to win because of the Pirates’ winless record (0-8) on the road and inconsistencies the team has faced during American Athletic Conference play.
This game was not close like the past four matchups these teams have had when playing against each other. However, the first half was closer in terms of the scoreboard and overall production from both teams.
ECU jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the first 2:19 of the game. UConn came back to make it a back and forth battle for the rest of the half. The game was tied 15 minutes into the first half at 19-19. The Huskies finished the half on a 13-7 run to lead at the half 32-26.
Less than two minutes into the second half, junior forward Seth LeDay had perhaps the biggest highlight of the game between both teams that resulted in a SportsCenter top 10 play. LeDay went behind the back on UConn sophomore forward Josh Carlton, drove down the lane and slammed down the emphatic one-handed posterizing dunk, which had the whole ECU bench up on its feet.
That dunk and a three point basket by sophomore guard Shawn Williams had the Pirates within six points in the second half 31-37. After that sequence the game went downhill for ECU. With 8:57 left in the game, the Pirates trailed by 10 points, 53-43. It appeared the game would come down to the wire, but three minutes later ECU found itself down 20, 65-45. The Huskies went up by as much as 24 points and blew out the Pirates in the end 76-52.
"For about 30 minutes we were really good, the pace was good," Dooley said per ecupirates.com. "I thought we played really hard. Back-to-back threes and we don't get a loose ball; it seems like its a four-minute stretch every game that does us in."
ECU finished the game shooting only 33.3 percent from the field (19-for-57) and 26.7 percent from the three point line (4-for-15). The Pirates on the defensive side allowed UConn to finish the game shooting 49.1 percent from the field (26-for-53) and 35.3 percent from three (6-for-17).
Sophomore guard K.J. Davis led the way for the Pirates in scoring with 13 points including three three-point baskets. Williams finished with nine points on 2-for-6 shooting from the field and 1-for-3 from distance. Freshman forward Jayden Gardner, who came into the game averaging 18.3 points and 9.2 rebounds a game, finished Sunday with only nine points on 2-for-10 from the field to go along with six rebounds.
The Pirates held UConn’s leading scorer, senior guard Jalen Adams who averaged under 19 points per game, scoreless to the point where Hurley benched him in the second half. ECU did allow Carlton to get his first double-double for the Huskies on Sunday with 20 points and 16 rebounds with no response.
"He dominated the game," Dooley said. "He was a little more deliberate and he made some shots when we put him on the free throw line. He also dug out loose balls and turned them into points."
ECU will look to tie its win total from last season on Wednesday as it will welcome Wichita State University (10-11, 3-6 AAC) to Minges Coliseum with the game set to tip off at 7 p.m.