PirateIllustrated - SMU Remains Undefeated With a 70-55 Win Over East Carolina
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SMU Remains Undefeated With a 70-55 Win Over East Carolina

SMU overcame an early ECU first half lead and never looked back in a 70-55 AAC win over ECU Wednesday night in Moody Coliseum to remain undefeated at 5-0.

Kendric Davis led the Mustangs with 17 points. Darius McNeill added 13 and Feron Hunt got in the act with 11 points. The three combined for six treys in the victory.

Jayden Gardner with 13 and Bitumba Baruti’s 11 points including three treys led East Carolina(5-1/0-1 AAC) in scoring. Tristen Newton added nine for the Pirates in their first loss of the season.

The Pirates made just 37.3 percent of their shots from the floor and just 5 of 9 from the stripe. SMU did not shoot much better at 45 percent.

“Our offense put our defense in harms way which you can’t do,” ECU head coach Joe Dooley said afterward, “Shooting 33 percent in the second half against a real good team like SMU and you’re not going to win the game.

The Pirates had their chances with a big lead to open the game and they hung around for a while in the second half before the Mustangs put the game on ice with a quality second half run that ECU failed to match on the offensive end of the court.

East Carolina got off to a fast 11-2 startin the first five minutes of the game, keyed by a pair of early Jayden Gardner jumpers and five points from Tristen Newton .

Two Kendric Davis baskets and a Darius McNeill three-pointer then fueled a Mustang 8-2 run and suddenly SMU was right back in the contest at 13-10. Then Davis’ second trey of the half tied the game at 13-13 before McNeill’s second three ball of the half gave the Mustangs their first lead of the game at 16-15.

The two teams exchange baskets over the course of the next ten minutes before SMU took a 33-28 lead into the locker room on 16 Kendric Davis first half points and 11 from Darius McNeill. J.J.Miles with seven and six Jayden Gardner points led ECU at the break.

“We’re down 38-33 with sixteen minutes left and they go on an 11-0 run. I thought part of that was attributed to bad shots. Davis is an absolute handful to guard and we missed some shots we need to make,” said Dooley.

“We shot it decently from three for the most part, but we had some shots at the rim that we needed to finish or we need to shot fake and not get it blocked," Dooley stated.

"I thought they did a good job of protecting the rim and we got a little edgy after we couldn’t score for a little bit. We had that five minute stretch where we got a little jammed up and that’s when they separated themselves.”

The SMU lead grew to fourteen at 49-35 in a 19-7 overall run in the first ten minutes of the second half highlighted by a Feron Hunt's three-pointer and a subsequent dunk.

Despite three Bitumba Baruti baskets for ECU, the Mustangs maintained a 70-55 lead late in the contest and held on for the victory.

ECU returns home on Saturday to take on James Madison at 1 o’clock in Minges Coliseum.

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