GREENVILLE — East Carolina used some home court magic to bounce back from a decisive road loss at Southern Methodist and upset Cincinnati, 73-71, in Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum on Saturday afternoon.
The Pirates went ahead to stay at 58-56 on a 19-foot jumper by Shawn Williams with 7:03 remaining.
ECU’s Justice Obasohan appeared to get his hand on a shot attempt by Jarron Cumberland on a drive in the lane just before the buzzer.
The Pirates (8-6) erased a 9-0 lead by the Bearcats (12-3, 1-1).
“The guys did a really good job of competing,” said ECU coach Joe Dooley. “Obviously, we didn’t get off to the best start in either half. The guys did a nice job of not panicking. Obviously it helps when you make some shots.”
The Pirates made 24 of 47 field goal attempts for 51.1 percent. That included nine of 22 beyond the arc (40.9 percent). ECU was 16 of 23 at the line (69.6 percent).
Sophomore K.J. Davis came off the bench to lead four ECU players into double figures with 17 points. Williams went four for 10 on 3-pointers in contributing 16 points with four assists and no turnovers.
Freshman Jayden Gardner (13 points, 12 rebounds) provided inside punch before drawing his fifth foul with 6.5 seconds left. Seth LeDay had 11 points and six rebounds before exiting on fouls.
Isaac Fleming had eight points and two steals. Tyler Foster scored five points. Obasohan had three points.
“I’m not surprised we won, but I am surprised that we scored 73 points,” Dooley said. “They’re such a good defensive team.”
Cincinnati is yielding just 59.2 points per game. Cumberland led all scorers with 18 points.
The Pirates regrouped from an 82-54 loss at SMU on Wednesday night in improving to 1-1 in the American Athletic Conference. The setback provided some motivation to prepare for the Bearcats.
“We were mad,” Williams said. “We worked hard in practice.”
ECU’s only previous win in the series, which the Bearcats lead 12-2, was on Feb. 1, 2015 by a 50-46 margin in Greenville.
There were 4,238 on hand to inspire the triumphant performance on Saturday.
“I don’t think the fans understand how much of a difference it makes for the kids,” Dooley said of the spectator support. “We need their help.”
The Pirates continue AAC play at Memphis on Thursday at 9 p.m. ECU is not scheduled to meet Cincinnati again during the regular season.