PirateIllustrated - Gardner Torches Temple for 29 Points to Lead ECU to 67-63 Win
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Gardner Torches Temple for 29 Points to Lead ECU to 67-63 Win

Jayden Gardner drives for two of his 29 points to go along with 13 rebounds in a 67-63 ECU win over Temple.
Jayden Gardner drives for two of his 29 points to go along with 13 rebounds in a 67-63 ECU win over Temple. (PirateIllustrated.com photo)

Jayden Gardner proved to be a handful for Temple on Sunday, launching in 29 points including nine straight points in the second half and yanking down 13 boards to lead ECU to a 67-63 win over Temple Minges Coliseum.

Gardner scored 15 of ECU’s first 30 points to get the Pirates jump started. J.J. Miles added 11 points and six boards and Tristen Newton scored 10 more in the Pirates’ 11th victory of the season.

After winning just three of their last twelve games - many of which were winnable, ECU is slowly but surely getting over the hump. The win snapped a three-game losing streak and as the maturation process continues, every win serves as a building block for future success.

“Just having that bad taste in your mouth and games that we could have won and should have won and being able to experience that again was big time,” said Gardner who told PirateIllustrated.com it was part of growing up for a young Pirate team that is still learning how to win in a quality league, “It’s a learning experience. These guys have never played in this league before. First year - newcomers, juco transfers and it’s all about getting experience and being consistent and getting chemistry with the guys and confidence. Once we get that, there’s no telling how far we can go.”

“I think all of these experiences add up as these guys get older,” Joe Dooley said afterward, “It’s learning how to grow. Today was a bit of a grinder. It wasn’t a very pretty game. I say to the guys all the time, sometimes if you just stick around like we did you can make some plays and don’t make mistakes. Obviously anytime Rose had the ball I was holding my breath, but I thought we did a nice job on him.”

“They shouldn’t be satisfied," said Dooley, "We’ve still got some basketball to play this year. If we finish the season the right way with some effort and enthusiasm, there’s no telling what might happen.”

The Pirates made just under 40 percent from the field including 4 of 15 from the arc but the ones they made were timely. ECU(11-17/5-10 AAC) forced 15 Owl turnovers while keeping their own to a minimum with just ten miscues on the day.

East Carolina has been slow getting out of the gate in several of their league games, but they got the fast start on Sunday they were hoping for, building a 13-6 lead behind three Jayden Gardner baskets and a pair of treys from Bitumba Baruti and Miles James.

The Pirates remained on top on two Jayden Gardner baskets and a J.J. Miles three-pointer to expand the lead to nine at 28-19 with five minutes to go before halftime.

But Temple baskets from Quinton Rose, De’Vondre Perry and Nate Pierre-Louis helped the Owls close to within three at 34-31 before a Pierre-Louis’ trey at the buzzer allowed them to climb all the way back to within one at 37-36 at the break.

Jayden Gardner’s 17 first half points and seven rebounds led all scorers after twenty minutes while Quinton Rose led Temple(14-13/6-8 AAC) with 11 points.

Temple took a four point 45-41 lead early in the second half on a pair of Jake Forester buckets and a J.P. Moorman three pointer.

Then J.J. Miles tied the game back up before two Tristen Newton free throws helped the Pirates recapture the lead at 47-45. A pair of Gardner baskets later had the two teams tied at 55-55 with just over seven minutes to play.

ECU got the short end of the stick when a flagrant foul followed by a double-technical with bodies banging around under the Temple basket resulted in six Temple free throws. Things could have turned south in a hurry for the Pirates, but Alani Moore made just three free throws all told and it all resulted in limited damage except to fire up the Pirate crowd as well as the team on the floor.

“Let’s cut to the chase, we got lucky that they missed some free throws,” said Dooley, “Then Tristen blocks a shot and we sort of bail ourselves out from that situation. In a weird way it sort of fired our fans and our guys up. It was sort of a wait and see kind of deal and we got some momentum and a little energy. I thought that was a real start even though it could have been a real dire deal for us.”

Dooley outlined the explanation that he got from the officials.

“I was told - and that doesn’t mean that’s what happened, was there was a flagrant foul on J.J. (Miles), a contact foul and then there was a technical foul on J.J. and a technical on Tremont (Robinson-White),” Dooley said, “I’ll go back and watch the tape but that’s the explanation that was told to me.”

Afterward, Gardner described what he saw on that pivotal play.

“What I saw was a guy push our guy, our guy retaliated and somehow we got two technicals and we didn’t get to shoot any free throws, so it is what it is,” said Gardner, “I think the crowd was big time with them missing three of the six - only being down three. This guy over here (Newton) made a big time play blocking a shot and we got out and got another defensive stop. They had no field goals the last four minutes and Coach really emphasized that - being able to guard your yard at the end of the game because they were downhill a lot during the game.”

“To be honest, I wasn’t even watching the free throws. I was trying to figure out what happened,” Newton said.

But Tremont Robinson-White’s drive in the paint then had ECU up by a point with 1:48 to go and the Pirates ultimately held of for the victory when Newton canned four free throws down the stretch. J.J. Miles' free throw with two seconds remaining put the game on ice.

ECU scored seven points in the last 2:41 of the game while completely shutting Temple down, allowing no Owl points in the final 3:51 of the contest.

The Pirates hit the road next to Tampa for a 7 o’clock Wednesday night matchup with USF that can be seen on ESPN 3.The Bulls fell to UConn 78-71 on Sunday on the road.