Hot Shooting ECU Upsets Cincinnati 73-71 in Minges Coliseum
ECU put two solid halves of basketball together and held on down the stretch to pick up a big 73-71 win over Cincinnati Saturday afternoon in Minges Coliseum.
The Pirates hit just over 51 percent of their shots from the field and nearly 41 percent from the arc to give the Bearcats fits on the offensive end of the floor. They also played solid defense at the other end and held Cincinnati to just 15.6 percent from three-point range on 3 of 19 shooting in the victory. It was the most points Cincinnati has allowed all season.
Led by 17 points from K.J. Davis, who did not start the game, ECU also got 16 from Shawn Williams, 13 second half points from Jayden Gardner to go along with twelve rebounds and 11 points from Seth LeDay that all seemed to come at the right time. Davis talked about what made the difference in what was his best overall game this season.
“Just working hard everyday and knowing that my time was going to come eventually,” said Davis, “I knew this was going to be a big game so going into it I was focused and working hard. I just wanted to provide like a spark coming off the bench both defensively and offensively. I knew we needed the energy.”
ECU took a commanding 36-27 lead into the locker room at halftime and withstood Cincinnati's early run in the second half with one of their own. The Pirates held on down the stretch and hit some big shots and played solid defense throughout to take the victory.
“This one was really big,” said Gardner, “We just had a really bad loss to SMU. Kind of a similar situation. We played a really good first half and the second half we came out flat, but this time we learned from it and I think we played a complete game. Coach really prepared us for Cincinnati well and we had guys like K.J. coming off the bench sparking us, Issac hit some big threes, Shawn was tremendous all game, Seth was big. We just had a really good game tonight.”
“I just had to let the game come to me in the second half,” Gardner told PI, “They run a really good zone - confusing defense so it was kind of hard to get the ball to the post sometimes so I just had to stay patient and my time came and I had a little run there with scoring. I had to be aggressive, keep rebounding and play defense tonight. It’s a new era. It’s the Dooley era and we came and we practiced so hard so why not reward ourselves with wins.”
Jarron Cumberland did lead four Cincinnati players in double-figures with 18 points to go along with 15 from Nysier Brooks in the paint, 13 from Keith Williams and 12 from Trevon Scott but the Bearcats had their issues with a hot shooting Pirate team that just would not quit.
“It was obviously a really good team win. I think the big thing was the guys believed they could win,” ECU head coach Joe Dooley said afterward, “When things didn’t necessarily go right we didn’t cave in. There were a couple of times when we were on the ropes and the guys kind of dug their heels in and it was a good win. I’m proud of them.”
“When you’re shooting 51 percent it makes up for a multitude of sins. We made some threes even though we didn’t get off to a very great start. The big thing was not turning the ball over. They probably got four or six points off of live ball turnovers,” Dooley told PirateIllustrated.com, “We turned it over twelve times, but not a lot of them were ones where they could run out and get easy baskets which was a big emphasis.”
Cincinnati went 0 for 10 from the arc in the first twenty minutes and despite a slow ECU start, hot outside shooting kept the Pirates in the game. Bearcat head coach Mick Cronin talked about his team’s overall performance afterward.
“I thought the team that deserved to win won today. Their team had humility and we played with a lot of error. We were too good to scrap and fight. When we did scrap and fight it was too little, too late,” said Cronin, “We got what we deserved. That being said I was happy for Joe. I thought his kids played well. He’s a good friend so give him all the credit.”
“We played with absolutely zero discipline. It was almost like we didn’t even have a scouting report,” Cronin said.
HOW IT HAPPENED
After Cincinnati jumped out to a fast 9-0 lead, ECU clawed their way back into the contest on three K.J. Davis baskets that both ignited the home crowd and got the Pirates back to within three at 13-10. Then a Ty Foster three-pointer tied the game at 13-13.
ECU took their first lead of the game at 16-15 on an Isaac Fleming bomb at the eleven minute mark.
Two Seth LeDay baskets and a three-point bombs from Shawn Williams and Isaac Fleming grew the ECU lead to 26-17 with 6:27 to play in the half.
Nysier Brooks’ hook shot and Keith Williams scored the paint for Cincinnati but four ECU free throws and a tip-in from Seth LeDay and a K.J. Davis fast break basket for a game leading twelfth point gave ECU a nine point 36-27 cushion at halftime.
Nysier Brooks scored nine points and Keith Williams scored eight to lead the Bearcats at halftime.
Quick early second half baskets from Trey Scott and Jarron Cumberland along with a Keith Williams dunk got Cincinnati right back on track and the Bearcats took a their first lead of the second half on a Nysier Brooks score in the paint.
Jayden Gardner finally got in the act for ECU with a pair of buckets from deep in the paint that kept the Pirates in a see-saw battle.
Three Shawn Williams treys in the first eleven minutes of the second half had ECU up by four with 9:17 to play.
K.J. Davis nailed a double pump three-pointer to avoid a defender and then a pair of free throws from both Jayden Gardner and Isaac Fleming helped ECU maintain a six-point 66-58 lead with five minutes to go.
A Nysier Brooks foul for Cincinnati and Seth LeDay’s fifth foul away from the ball on the same play found ECU's Justice Obasohan on the charity stripe where he hit one of two before Brooks hit one of two at the other end of the floor. ECU came out of that with a 69-64 lead with just 1:41 remaining.
Isaac Fleming then hit one of two from the stripe on the ECU end of the floor before Keith Williams countered with a bucket in the paint for the Bearcats. The two teams then traded baskets with Gardner scoring on a follow of a Shawn Williams' missed layup and Jenifer answering with a trey at the other end for Cincinnati in a 72-69 contest with just 16 seconds left.
Gardner was then fouled on the inbounds pass with 13.7 remaining where he hit one of two to give ECU a 73-69 lead. Tre Scott was fouled at the other end where he connected on both free throws with 6.5 seconds left for Cincinnati and ECU held on to take the victory.