GREENVILLE — After being named American Athletic Conference Player of the Week earlier in the day, Jayden Gardner had 23 points and nine rebounds for East Carolina on Monday evening but it wasn’t enough to keep Southern Methodist from pulling away to a 71-56 win.
The Mustangs closed the game on a 22-7 run to improve to 11-4 overall and 7-4 in the AAC as Kendric Davis led the way with 25 points.
ECU (8-8, 2-8) used a 12-2 run to tie the score at 49 with 8:23 to go. That’s when the visitors made their getaway and the Pirates experienced an offensive lull..
“It’s very frustrating not to be able to get the ball to go in the basket,” Gardner said. “At the end of the day, the other team is going to score. You’ve got to be able to score on offense and match it a little bit.
“We’ve just got to be prepared, ready to make shots. It’s a make-or-miss league and that’s as simple as I can put it. Right now, we’re really hot or we are ice cold and there’s got to be some middle ground.”
J.J. Miles finished with 11 points and six rebounds for ECU, which had taken a 70-55 loss at SMU on Dec. 16.
Tristen Newton and Brandon Suggs had seven points each in the setback.
The Pirates made just two of 14 shots from beyond the arc, 14.3 percent.
“Our offense was terrible,” said ECU coach Joe Dooley. “We’re 3-for-27 from three (the last two games combined). We looked like we were running in sand.
“I did think we battled back and when we got it to 49-all, we got a little bit of a rhythm, but then it was untimely missed layups and untimely missed free throws and untimely turnovers.
“When you’re playing and especially on easy shots like (missed) layups, it just takes all the momentum away from you.”
The Pirates visit Temple (4-7, 3-7) on Thursday at noon and host the Owls on Saturday at noon. Both games are scheduled to be shown on ESPN+.