GREENVILLE — Coming off a 24-day layoff, East Carolina regrouped from an early deficit to put forth a competitive effort before falling to Central Florida, 64-60, on Thursday night.
The Knights led 24-11 midway the first half before the Pirates closed within two points twice in the second half, the last time at 59-57 on a dunk by Tremont Robinson-White off a UCF turnover.
The visitors responded with a basket by Jamille Reynolds and a 3-pointer by Darin Green Jr. to push the lead back to seven points.
“A lot of the things that ended up happening were self-inflicted,” said ECU coach Joe Dooley. “Also, they made some plays. … We kept chipping away. We never, obviously, took the lead. I thought we had some opportunities.”
Jayden Gardner and Tristan Newton scored 18 points each as the Pirates slipped to 8-9 overall and 2-9 in the American Athletic Conference. Gardner had seven rebounds and Newton was credited with five assists.
J.J. Miles and Robinson-White had eight points apiece for ECU.
The Knights (10-11, 8-10) were led by Isaiah Adams with 15 points. Darius Perry and Green added 14 points each. Perry had 11 rebounds and five assists.
Recently-revised regulations allowed more spectators. Attendance was listed at 424.
“Appreciate the fans,” Gardner said. “Hope to see them Sunday.”
The Pirates host Cincinnati on Sunday at 1 p.m. to close the regular season. Dooley said ECU’s seniors would be recognized.