FORT WORTH, TX — A 72-62 loss to Central Florida on Thursday night ended the 2020-21 season for East Carolina in the first round of the American Athletic Conference Tournament at Dickies Arena.
The Pirates (8-11) led 2-0 on a basket by Ludgy Debaut before the Knights (11-11) scored 10 unanswered points and stayed in front the rest of the way.
First team all-conference selection Jayden Gardner had game highs in scoring (17) and rebounding (9) for ECU..
“We couldn’t get in a rhythm all night,” Gardner said. “We made some strides here and there, but they really punched us in the mouth throughout the whole game. Credit their game plan, but we were a little off tonight, a little off kilter.”
Brandon Suggs had 14 points for the Pirates. Tristen Newton added 13 points and six assists.
ECU missed all five of its 3-point attempts in the first half and trailed 36-27 at the break.
The Pirates finished 25 of 61 from the floor (41 percent), three of 16 from beyond the arc (18.8 percent) and nine of 15 at the line (60 percent).
UCF had a 37-31 rebounding advantage. ECU had fewer turnovers, 7-14.
Tremont Robinson-White had eight points in the loss. J.J. Miles had five points and four steals. Debaut netted four points and true freshman Noah Farrakhan added one point.
The Knights had five players score in double figures including Darius Perry (15), Darin Green Jr. (12), Avery Diggs (12), Jamille Reynolds (10) and Brandon Mahan (10).
The Knights made 13 of 24 field goal attempts in the first half, 54.2 percent.
UCF won all three meetings with the Pirates this season.
“We need to continue to upgrade our talent,” said Pirates coach Joe Dooley, looking forward. “We need to develop the young guys that we have in the program and get better.”