CHARLOTTE — East Carolina handed Charlotte a home loss for the first time since 1983, pulling away from a tie at 32 at halftime for a 66-57 win in the season opener for both clubs on Friday.
The pairing between the teams came on the first day of he 49ers Tip-Off Classic, an event hastily arranged by the schools to help compensate for coronavirus-related disruptions to their early season schedules. Belmont-Abbey is the Classic’s other invited team.
Bitumba Baruti put the Pirates ahead of the 49ers to stay at 43-42 on a 3-pointer with 13:29 to go.
ECU hit 28 of 67 field goal attempts for 49.1 percent but made just two of 15 from behind the arc (13.3 percent). The Pirates made eight of 10 at the line.
Jayden Gardner was seven of 14 from the floor to lead the Pirates with 18 points. Tristan Newton was 7-for-13 and had 15 points.
Tyrie Jackson had eight points and led ECU in rebounding with seven. The Pirates had a 34-32 advantage on the boards.
“We’ll see what our maturity level is tomorrow afternoon,” said ECU coach Joe Dooley after the game.
Dooley’s remark came before he learned that the Pirates’ scheduled contest with Belmont-Abbey on Saturday had been cancelled. ECU Athletics announced on Twitter Friday evening that the game with the Crusaders game had been called off due to COVID testing within the Belmont-Abbey program.
The matchup with Belmont-Abbey was to have tipped off at 3 p.m. at Charlotte’s Halton Arena on the second day of the Classic.
Charlotte was set to host the Crusaders Monday evening to conclude the Classic. Bonesville had not been able to determine the status of that game as of press time.