WICHITA, KS — East Carolina sophomore Jayden Gardner posted game highs in points (29) and rebounds (10), but it wasn’t enough for the Pirates to fulfill an upset bid at No. 24 Wichita State on Wednesday.
The Shockers, 19.5-point favorites, managed a 75-69 win in the American Athletic Conference opener for both teams.
Wichita State (12-1) trailed 45-44 after a layup by ECU’s Bitumba Baruti with 12:46 to go.
The Shockers regained the upper hand on a hoop in the paint by Tyson Etienne with 12:22 remaining and stayed ahead the rest of the way in halting a 4-game winning streak by the Pirates.
J.J. Miles had 12 points and five rebounds in the loss. Tremont Robinson-White scored 11 points. Tristen Newton had five assists for ECU.
Morris Udeze blocked a shot on a drive by Robinson-White to protect a 71-67 lead with 33 seconds left.
Wichita State was led by Erik Stevenson with 17 points and nine rebounds. Jamarius Burton had 15 points. Trey Wade and Etienne scored 11 each.
The Pirates made 29 of 59 field goal attempts for 49.2 percent. The Shockers were 25 of 57 from the floor for 43.9 percent.
The hosts had a decided advantage at the free throw line, hitting 16 of 29 while ECU sank seven of nine.
ECU led 36-33 in rebounding but committed more turnovers, 17-11.
“We made some ill-timed turnovers,” said ECU coach Joe Dooley. “We got a little sped up and took some bad shots. It wasn’t lack of effort.
“We’ve got to get where we’re a little more patient offensively. … We played hard and competed, but we’ve just got to clean up some things.”
The Pirates host South Florida on Tuesday at 7 p.m.