GREENVILLE — Cincinnati closed a 12-0 run with a 3-pointer by Jeremiah Davenport to lead 67-53 with seven minutes left at East Carolina on Sunday and the Bearcats went on to an 82-69 American Athletic Conference win.
ECU (8-10, 2-10 AAC) will be the No. 11 seed for the AAC Tournament in Fort Worth and will face sixth-seeded Central Florida (10-11, 8-10) on Thursday at 7 p.m,
“Our offensive ineptness has put our defense in trouble,” said Pirates coach Joe Dooley. “You can’t score and every time it puts so much pressure on your defense.
“We came out of halftime and we knew they were going to throw the ball to the big fella (Chris Vogt), and we gave up a layup. We sort of eased back into it, but we do need to make some shots.”
ECU made just eight of 26 field goal attempts in the second half for 30.8 percent while the visitors made 15 of 30 over the last 20 minutes for 50 percent.
“A lot of it is timing and a lot of that is repetition,” Dooley said. “We’ll try to do that the next couple of days.”
Pirate junior forward Jayden Gardner made seven of 14 from the floor and nine of 11 at the line to lead all scorers with 23 points.
“We’ve just to keep working and get past these things,” Gardner said. “Just next shot, next shot mentality. We’re always going to keep working. But we have to be able to make that jumper. And once we do, I think we’ll be able to stay in these games. It’s always a quick two-minute stretch where we can’t hit anything, and things go wrong.”
Tristen Newton and Brandon Suggs scored 13 each for the Pirates. J.J. Miles added eight points, Ludgy Debaut netted five and Ian Jones added three. Evan Umstead and Edra Luster had two points each.
ECU trailed 12-4 early but came back to lead 28-25 on a 3-pointer by Miles with 6:31 left in the first half. Cincinnati (10-10, 8-6) was up, 37-35, at the half.
The Pirates had their last lead at 45-44 with 15:46 to go on the second of two free throws by Debaut.
Davenport and Mason Madsen had 19 points each to pace the Bearcats.