GREENVILLE — Connecticut controlled the opening tip, scored on the first possession and led the rest of the way in an 84-63 American Athletic Conference win at East Carolina on Saturday.
Christian Vital had the first hoop for the Huskies (17-12, 8-8 AAC) and finished with 27 points, five rebounds and four steals.
Tristen Newton had 25 points, five rebounds and six assists for the Pirates (11-19, 5-12).
“We had a number of things go wrong today and we couldn’t offset it,” said ECU coach Joe Dooley. “We didn’t play like ourselves today. A lot of that is attributed to UConn. They made a lot of timely shots and, obviously, Vital was terrific.”
The Pirates trailed 42-30 at the half but were within 62-56 with 9:50 to go after a driving layup by Newton.
The Huskies responded with a 9-2 run and pulled away.
James Bouknight had 19 points and 10 rebounds for UConn. Isaiah Whaley made five of seven field goal attempts and six of seven free throws in adding 16 points. Brendan Adams scored 11.
Charles Coleman made five of six from the floor and both his free throws in totaling 12 points in just over 21 minutes for ECU. Jayden Gardner was limited to nine points, 11 below his league-leading average.
Tremont Robinson-White had eight points, Bitumba Baruti tallied five and Brandon Suggs scored four. J.J. Miles was ejected with 15:49 remaning on a flagrant 2 technical foul after going scoreless for 22:03.
ECU closes the regular season at Central Florida on Sunday, March 8, with a 2 p.m. tipoff. The Knights had a 14-13 overall record and were 5-10 in the AAC going into a game at Tulsa on Saturday, February 29.