DALLAS — East Carolina absorbed its first loss, 70-55, in its American Athletic Conference opener at Southern Methodist on Wednesday night.
Jayden Gardner led the Pirates (5-1) with 13 points in 31 minutes but left the game after going to the floor at the offensive end. ECU coach Joe Dooley said Gardner was bruised.
The Pirates face James Madison (2-1) in Williams Arena at Minges Colisuem on Satuirday at 2 p.m. in a nonconference matchup.
SMU (5-0) shot 53.1 percent (17 for 32) from the field in the second half in pulling away from a 30-28 advantage at the break. Guard Kedrick Davis led the Mustangs with 17 points and six assists.
Darius McNeill added 13 points for the hosts and Feron Hunt scored 11.
The Pirates got 11 points from Bitumba Baruti, who made three of four attempts from beyond the arc. Tristen Newton scored nine points in the setback.
Tremont Robinson-White and J.J. Miles had seven points each for ECU.
Ludgy Debaut led the Pirates on the boards with five rebounds. Robinson-White had a team-high four assists.
ECU trailed 35-33 after a turnaround jumper by Gardner with 16 minutes left. SMU went on a 12-0 run to take control.