ECU Beats Radford 63-50 For Third Straight Victory
East Carolina was challenged at times early by Radford but the Pirates used their depth on the bench along with 20 points from Jayden Gardner and 11 from point guard Noah Farrakhan to grab a 63-50 win on Saturday in Minges Coliseum.
With the victory, the Pirates improve to 3-0 on the season in a game where ECU got better as the game went on.
“You’re going to have nights like that where you don’t hit shots early, but I was able to finish strong and help my team and we were resilient tonight,” said Gardner, “My dad was able to come today. It was a little bit more lively. We’d like to get some more fans in here but it was nice to have the reassurance that some of the guy’s families came to the game.”
Gardner outlined what he feels is going well so for Pirates early in the season as the team.
“So far our communication has been really good and our offense has been really good,” Gardner told PirateIllustrated.com, “Our defense is getting better. We had a really good second half on defense. We got a lot of stops. We have still got a lot of work to do but that’s good. It’s good that we are winning and improving at the same time. It’s a long season and we’re going to keep improving game to game.”
For ECU, winning is contagious and they hope that it will give them more confidence as the team approaches the conference season.
“I’ve never been 3-0 here, so I am ecstatic. We just want to keep it going, get used to this feeling and keep winning,” Gardner stated, “We’ve got a quick turnaround, we’ve got some guys tired and we’ve got to regroup and get ready to go on Monday.”
Shaquan Jules, Fah’Mir Ali and Quinton Morton-Robinson ended up with nine points each to lead Radford in scoring. All were held under their average in the process and ECU held Radford to eight points below their average of 58 points a game in Saturday’s victory.
“Good win. They sort of put us on our heels early. Their aggressive defense had us a little backed up. They also did a nice job especially of getting down hill and after being down 19-10, I thought the guys responded pretty well,” ECU head coach Joe Dooley said, “We picked up the pace and we did some good things.”
“We’ve got to do a better job of not giving up easy baskets at the rim. To me it seems like this year the offense is a little ahead of the defense,” Dooley told PirateIllustrated.com, “Guys are getting downhill and forcing fouls and getting to the free throw line which means we need to do a better job of getting to the free throw line. We need to guard the ball better which is one of the harder things to do. I thought our defense was good. We did some solid things but obviously there is room for improvement in a lot of areas.”
Two Quinton Robertson treys along with a pair of buckets from Chryee Walker had Radford up early 16-8. Xavier Lipscomb’s three-point play on a drive in the paint expanded the Highlanders’ lead to as much as nine at 19-10 midway through the first period
ECU the picked up the pace with points from Ludgy Debaut, Tremont Robinson-White, Noah Farrakhan and Brandon Suggs that cut the Radford lead to one. The Pirate then took a seven point lead at 28-21 on four Jayden Gardner free throws, two more from Brandon Suggs along baskets from Bitumba Baruti and a three-point play in the lane from Gardner.
But seven Lipscomb points and six more from Quinton Morton-Roberts helped Radford close to within four at the break at 31-27 on 48 percent first half shooting. The Highlanders held ECU to just 41 percent, but the Pirates managed to get to the stripe on several of those missed attempts where they made all seven attempts.
Tyree Jackson and Bitumba Baruti got the Pirates out to a nine point lead early in the second half. Then seven straight points from Jayden Gardner found ECU suddenly up by thirteen at 51-38 with less than eight minutes to play.
The Pirates led by fifteen with two minutes to go on a Jackson three-pointer and ECU held on for their third straight victory.
ECU takes on UNC-Wilmington Monday night in Minges Coliseum. Tip-off is slated for 5 o’clock.