ESTERO, FL — East Carolina made another compelling comeback in the first round of the Gulf Coast Showcase on Monday, but for the first time in the Michael Schwartz coaching era the Pirates came up short.
ECU trailed Indiana State, the alma mater of the legendary Larry Bird, 65-49, with 8:29 to go and closed within 73-70 with 1:14 left before the Sycamores prevailed, 79-75.
The Pirates had erased deficits totaling 52 points in a 3-0 start in Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum.
Schwartz cited free throw shooting and failure to stop dribble penetration as factors after ECU dropped to 3-1 going into a matchup with Toledo (3-1) in the Gulf Coast event on Tuesday at 11 a.m.
The Pirates were 24 of 38 on foul shots, 63.2 percent.
ECU sophomore guard Javon Small was seven of 11 from the floor, including three of five behind the arc, and 10 of 13 at the line to lead all scorers with 27 points.
Brandon Johnson had 12 points and a game-high 13 rebounds for the Pirates before fouling out.
Freshman Kalib LaCount had 13 points in 19 minutes in the setback. Quintin Diboundje added 12 points.
Courvoisier McCauley and Xavier Bledson led Indiana State (4-0) with 16 points each.