GREENVILLE — East Carolina got eight points from Jayden Gardner in overtime to take an 88-78 win over UNC-Wilmington in Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum on Monday night.
The nonconference rivalry featured some significant runs by both teams as ECU led 51-35 late in the first half but had to battle back from a 67-57 deficit with 7:26 to go.
The Pirates tied the score at 71 on a 3-pointer by Bitumba Baruti with 1:33 left in regulation and took a 73-71 lead as Gardner maneuvered underneath with 39 seconds to go.
Jaylen Sims, who led all scorers with 28 points, drove for a tying hoop for the Seahawks (2-2). ECU had an inbounds play with three-tenths of a second left but a potential game-winning 15-footer by J.J. Miles was ruled after the buzzer by official Ted Valentine.
Gardner put the Pirates (4-0) ahead to stay at 75-73 with a jumper with 4:20 to go in the extra period. Miles hit from beyond the arc for a 78-73 lead.
Two free throws by Gardner with 33 seconds left gave ECU its largest lead in overtime and accounted for the final margin.
Miles led the Pirates with 22 points. Baruti totaled 17 points and six rebounds. Gardner had 16 points and 11 rebounds. Tristen Newton finished with 10 points and eight assists.
ECU made 14 of 24 on 3-pointers for 58.3 percent and 12 of 14 free throws for 85.7 percent. The hosts had a 39-36 rebounding advantage.
“It was an interesting bunch of streaks and runs,” said Pirates coach Joe Dooley. “We did a nice job early and then the start of the second half was embarrassing. We turned it over. We didn’t execute. We couldn’t get organized. Wilmington’s energy and enthusiasm was great. They set the tone.
“I’ve got to give our guys credit for being down 10 and then figuring it out.”
ECU will be looking to maintain its momentum at home against North Florida (0-6) on Thursday at 5 p.m.
“They shoot a lot of threes,” Dooley said of the upcoming opponent.
The Ospreys are averaging 26.8 attempts from long range per game following a 79-77 home loss to Florida Atlantic on Monday.
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