PirateIllustrated - Cincinnati Manhandles ECU 82-57
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Cincinnati Manhandles ECU 82-57

Cincinnati had little difficulty beating East Carolina 82-57 Sunday evening at First Third Arena.
Cincinnati had little difficulty beating East Carolina 82-57 Sunday evening at First Third Arena. (Cincinnati photo)

Cincinnati used strong defensive pressure to make life difficult for cold shooting ECU and the Bearcats picked up an easy 82-57 win Sunday night in First Third Arena.

Tre Scott led the Bearcats with a career high 16 points to go along with 13 from Jarron Cumberland and 11 points from Jaume Sorolla. Jaevin Cumberland added 9 points and Keith Williams scored eight as Cincinnati improved to 11-7 overall and 4-2 in AAC play.

The Bearcats scored 24 points off on 19 ECU turnovers and limited the Pirates’ ability to make shots. That included largely shutting down the league’s leading scorer Jayden Gardner who scored just 13 points and pulled down 8 rebounds against a physical brand of Cincinnati defense from start to finish. Brandon Suggs led the Pirates with 16 points.

“I think Tre Scott is one of the best defenders in the league. Our league is made of a lot of good four men and Tre gets the same assignment every game,” said first year Cincinnati coach John Brannen, “The way he moves his feet, his physicality and the way he makes guys miss, we talk about how it’s difficult to score at any level when there is a body between you and the rim and Tre does a great job of doing that.”

“The terms of the game had to be dictated by us and I thought they were,” said Brannen, “We pressed them and took them out of their momentum and tried to play at the pace we wanted to and try to keep the ball out of the big guy’s hands.”

It is difficult to win games in the tough AAC scoring less than sixty points. Committing 19 turnovers and making just 32.8 percent from the floor and less than 70 percent from the charity stripe makes it double tough. Just 6 of 23 shooting from the arc was no bargain either for ECU against a team that exerted strong defensive pressure the entire forty minutes.

“That’s what grown men look like. I thought the first nine minutes we were fine. I thought we had a couple of stretches where we actually played well and then there was a barrage in the second half,” said Dooley, “We sort of stemmed it a little bit and had a chance to cut it to twelve with some untimely missed free throws. We looked around a little bit too much today and did some things we haven’t done in a while, so we need to get that corrected quickly.”

Cincinnati’s ability to get out in the fast break created problems for the Pirates. The Bearcats scored 13 of their points in transition and scored 44 points in the paint where the Bearcats took advantage of ECU’s youth.

“Transition was a big point of emphasis because of the way they push it up the floor. They did a really good job of spreading it and a lot of it was long rebounds. When the ball is rebounded we need to be in motion,” ECU head coach Joe Dooley said after the game.

“We did some things we haven’t done in a while because of their pressure,” said Dooley, “The pressure did bother us especially early. I think our poise today was bad, we got a little rattled and got into a little foul trouble. Missing open shots affected us and then we became hesitant and we need to keep working on that.”

Jayden Gardner made the first basket of the game for the Pirates’ only lead of the game. Cincinnati then quickly went up 11-4 in just the first five minutes of the contest behind four points each from Tre Scott and Keith Williams.

ECU(8-10/2-3 AAC) did slice the lead to as little as three before two Cincinnati baskets from Jaume Sorolla and Zach Harvey pushed the Bearcat lead back to eight at 19-11. Two possessions later it was 24-11 Bearcats on a three-point play from Mamoudou Diarra.

Fifty percent shooting in the first thirteen minutes and a 15-8 rebound advantage found Cincinnati up by eleven points at 30-19 as the Pirates made just seven of their first twenty shots.

With the Pirates outmanned on both ends of the floor, the lead grew to 19 at 42-23 at the three minute mark of the first half on a 14-4 run and Cincinnati took a commanding 45-28 lead into halftime. ECU hit just 9 of 32 from the floor in the first twenty minutes on 28 percent shooting including just 3 of 14 from the arc.

Tre Scott led all scorers with ten first half points as the two teams went into the locker room. Jarron Cumberland added 8 points for the Bearcats. Brandon Suggs and Jayden Gardner led ECU with just 7 and 6 points respectively.

The Bearcats manhandled the Pirates on both ends of the floor in the second half as the lead quickly grew to twenty at 54-34.

ECU was able to cut the lead to 17 with 6:30 to go in the game, but the inability to make shots continued to plague the Pirates and Cincinnati pulled away down the stretch.

The Pirates will head to Dallas Wednesday night to take on SMU in an 8 pm matchup on ESPN3.

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