Publisher's note: This post appears here courtesy of the news and information section for East Carolina University men's and women's sports.
East Carolina sophomore Jayden Gardner
scored 25 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to help the Pirates earn their fourth consecutive victory with an 82-74 win over Eastern Kentucky on Saturday.
Junior Tyrie Jackson
scored 16-points on a career-best four 3-pointers and sophomore Tremont Robinson-White
had 13 points with four assists and five steals. Bitumba Baruti grabbed double-digit rebounds for the first time in his career, finishing with 10 boards.
Eastern Kentucky (3-10) started with a 15-5 lead when Ty Taylor scored nine. The Pirates whittled the lead down to one, 30-29, but the Colonels finished the half on a 9-3 run to lead 39-32 at halftime.
East Carolina (6-7) erupted to start the second half with a 21-8 run and led 53-47 with 12:51 left. The Pirates trailed 47-40, but scored 14 consecutive points to go ahead by seven. After Gardner scooped up the loose ball and scored to tie the game at 47-all, Robinson-White made 1-of-2 shots from the foul line for a 48-47 advantage; the first lead for the Pirates since 2-1.
followed with a 3-pointer and Gardner scored inside again before Robinson-White added a free throw to cap the run.
Gardner put in a layup off his own miss and the Pirates extended it to 60-51. The Colonels used a 12-5 spurt and closed to 65-63 on a 3 from Taylor but couldn't get closer as ECU reeled off nine straight points to take control.
Jomaru Brown scored 25 for EKU, Tre King had 18 points with 12 boards, Taylor 12 and Michael Moreno 11.
East Carolina returns to action New Year's Day as it starts American Athletic Conference play at Wichita State.
ECU Head Coach Joe Dooley
"Give credit to Eastern, you know they put us on our heels the first half, you know we've seen some pressure but not hard pressure, they really had us a little discombobulated. I thought the guys did a good job in the second half, after we got our bearings of being a little more aggressive and not turning it over as many times until the last couple of minutes. Played a lot better, I think a lot of it was a contribute to the fact that we got stops, at one point we had 11 straight, so I thought that allowed us to get out and run and make some easy plays and we need to handle things at the end of the game a lot better. We ended the end of the game horrifically."
On Baruti's play tonight
"Bitumba played his best game since he's been here... but I did think he was very active, I thought that he chased the ball, he had nine rebounds in the second half and I thought he played with a lot of confidence. You look at his plus-minus from tonight and he was terrific."
On winning four in a row
"We talk to our guys we need to make this an expectation. That's building things over the course of time. And not taking winning for granted either. It's not easy. But I do think a little bit of confidence with four in a row, and eight of nine at home after the Wichita game, you're getting a little bit of a familiarity of things."
Junior Bitumba Baruti
On shutting out EKU forward Tre King in the second half
"Coach definitely told us to shut him down in the second half and we tried to do that. It was successful. He just made shots (in the first half), and we just tried to make it more difficult for him in the second half. Contest shots, fight him on the boards."
Junior Tyrie Jackson
On watching the team's evolution and improvement
"We are really clicking as a team and coming together as one. Every day we're trying to focus on getting better at everything and coming together, and I feel like the guys around have really recognized where we're at in the season and how important it is to win, and how important it is to be locked in every day in practice."
- East Carolina posted its fourth consecutive win of the season, its first four-game winning streak since December 2013.
- ECU improved to 6-0 this season when holding its opponent under 40 percent shooting. EKU finished the game shooting 35.6 percent.
- The Pirates improved to 5-2 this season when scoring more than 70 points and 3-1 when scoring 80 or more points.
- ECU is 12-4 at home in non-conference games under coach Joe Dooley the past two seasons.
- The Pirates improved to 4-0 with the starting lineup of Jayden Gardner, Brandon Suggs, Tyrie Jackson, Tremont-Robinson-White and Edra Luster.
- ECU dished out a season-high 19 assists on 28 made field goals.
- The Pirates' eight made 3-point field goals were their most since sinking 13 against James Madison on Nov.30.
- Gardner became the first Pirate to score 20 points in five consecutive games since Maurice Kemp topped the mark in the final nine games of the 2012-13 campaign.
- Jackson scored double figures for the first time since netting 12 against Coppin State. He had been held to a total of 20 points the previous three games.
- Robinson-White became the first Pirate to collect five steals in a game since Isaac Fleming had five versus James Madison last season (Nov. 9, 2018).