ORLANDO — Freshman Jayden Gardner had 35 points and 20 rebounds for East Carolina in a 76-65 American Athletic Conference loss at Central Florida on Sunday.
“Great effort,” said Pirates coach Joe Dooley after Gardner’s seventh collegiate double-double.
ECU (8-8, 1-3 AAC) trailed 50-29 with 16;29 to go after a 3-pointer by Aubrey Dawkins, who led UCF (13-2, 3-0) with 18 points.
The Pirates trimmed the deficit to 66-60 on a 3-point play by Gardner with 3:26 left.
“Give our guys credit,” Dooley said. “They didn’t stop playing when it looked like they were going to bury us.”
The Knights closed with a 10-5 run in their seventh straight win.
Shawn Williams had 12 points for ECU. Isaac Fleming, Dimitri Spasojevic and Tyler Foster had four points each. Seth LeDay and K.J. Davis added three points apiece for the Pirates.
Fleming had four assists. LeDay and Davis each claimed four rebounds.
ECU made 23 of 58 field goal attempts, 39.7 percent. The Pirates were five of 19 on threes (26.3 percent) and 14 of 24 at the line (58.3 percent).
“We didn’t do ourselves any favors at the free throw line or the 3-point stripe,” Dooley said.
The Knights were six of 25 from long distance (24 percent) and were 22 of 41 on free throws (53.7 percent).
ECU hosts Temple (13-3, 3-1) on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
“We’ve got to get home and regroup,” Dooley said. “We’ll work on some things and get better.”