basketball Edit

ECU Upsets Evansville 85-68 On 28 and 10 From Jayden Gardner

Jayden Gardner tossed in 28 points and pulled down ten boards to lead the Pirates to an 85-68 win over Evansville.
Jayden Gardner tossed in 28 points and pulled down ten boards to lead the Pirates to an 85-68 win over Evansville. (PirateIllustrated.com photo)

ECU picked up their second win of the season in a big 85-68 upset of Evansville in the Islands of the Bahamas Showcase Friday night in the Baha Mar Convention Center.

The Purple Aces beat then top ranked Kentucky earlier in the season.

Jayden Gardner led ECU(2-3) with a season high 28 points and ten rebounds along with 18 points, five assists and four rebounds from Tristen Newton who got the better of his older brother Jawaun who was playing for Evansville. Seth LeDay scored 12 and Brandon Suggs added 10 points to snap a three game Pirate losing streak.

Newton talked about playing against his brother for the first time on Friday night.

“It was definitely different. We’ve been playing together our whole life. I’ve never played against him but for at practice in one-on-ones,” Newton said, “To see him on the other side of a real game, it was definitely different. He’s always claiming he’s better and I had to show him today.”

“Pig and Tremont being back for us is a big plus for us. They give us energy and we had two or three great practices and they were back,” said Newton, "We’re capable of anything. We just have to practice hard and play hard and we can beat any team.”

ECU head coach Joe Dooley says he liked what he saw from Newton for the most part on Friday.

“We did a nice job of screening which created some creases and he had 18 points and five rebounds with one turnover and played 38 minutes,” Dooley said, “He played a lot of minutes and we’ve got to get him some rest tonight.”

Gardner’s performance was notable in that he becomes the first ECU player to score a hundred points in his first five games since 2001. He talked about when he knew that he was headed for a another good outing on Friday.

“Probably on the first play of the game when they didn’t double-team me. Usually my first catch in the post, there is a double-team and I got the ball, got to work and scored the first basket,” said Gardner, “Throughout the game there was no double-team and my teammates did a great job of throwing it up and I went to get it, and finished layups.”

The Pirates hit 58 percent of their field goals including 63 percent second half shooting. ECU connected on a solid 34 percent from the arc to go along with 20 of 28 from the stripe in the victory. The Pirates also dominated the glass 42 to 23.

ECU held Evansville scoreless in the first ten and a half minutes of the game and that set the tone for the evening for the Pirates.

“Everybody locked in. Tristen, Brandon, Pig, Me, Bitumba, it was more of a game where we could be more versatile,” Gardner stated, “I think us being really locked into the scouting reports really helped us tonight.”

Dooley liked what he saw overall from his young ballclub and talked about it shutting Evansville down defensively for over ten straight minutes to open the game.

“We guarded a lot better and we definitely kept people in front of it. They missed a couple of wide open shots and it’s amazing how the law of averages comes back to get you,” Dooley said, “They made 13 threes which is a large number of threes to give up especially when you win. I thought our defensive position was pretty good. We did give up a few too many at the end in some spurts and when we didn’t turn the ball over, I thought our offense got going pretty good.”

“We had some spurts where we did some nice things and some spurts where I thought we lost our minds a little bit for a second but I did think we did have a lot of wide open threes that we didn’t make,” said Dooley, Another big thing too was (DeAndre) Williams fouling out. The guy averages 18 points a game and was a non factor tonight. I thought we did a good job of getting the ball to the post in some tough spots that he didn’t want to be in.”

Noah Frederking led Evansville(3-2) with 17 points to go along with 17 from 6-8 forward Sam Cunliffe, 12 from Artir Labinowitz and 8 from K.J. Riley.

ECU held a commanding 16-2 lead in the first ten minutes of the contest before three straight Evansville treys cut the lead to 16-11 with eight minutes to go before halftime.

Evansville’s first half shooting percentage eventually improved from the teens to 28 percent and that was enough to cut the early ECU lead to 30-26 at halftime despite 50 percent shooting from the Pirates that included 3-8 from the arc.

Jayden Gardner led the Pirates with 10 halftime points to go along with five from Miles James while Noah Frederking led the Purple Aces with nine points in the first twenty minutes.

A pair of Gardner baskets and another from Tristen Newton grew the ECU lead to 36-26 and the lead remained at nine at 49-40 at the twelve minute mark and four minutes later expanded to thirteen at 62-49.

Two quick Evansville baskets cut into the ECU lead before Tyrie Jackson’s first trey as a Pirate had ECU up by thirteen with 4:33 to play at 71-58.

Tristen Newton’s three-point play had ECU in the lead 80-66 with two minutes left. That was followed shortly after by a Jayden Gardner three-point play for his 26th point and a subsequent basket for his 28th point of the game.

ECU will now advance in the Islands of the Bahamas Showcase to take on 3-3 Missouri-Kansas City that came back from a big deficit to beat George Washington on Friday. Game time is set for 8 p.m. on Saturday.

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