ESTERO, FL — East Carolina went on a 9-1 run to close the first half and had a 12-0 flurry early in the second half in taking a 79-65 win over Texas-Arlington in the Gulf Coast Showcase on Wednesday.
ECU led 37-29 at the half and pushed the lead to 49-31 after the Mavericks (3-4) scored the first basket of the second half.
“Defense set the tone for us,” said Pirates coach Michael Schwartz. “That’s going to be what sparks us.”
Sophomore guard Javon Small had 18 points, six rebounds and six assists for ECU in the fifth-place game of the Gulf Coast event.
R.J. Felton and Wynston Tabbs had 16 points each for the Pirates. Tabbs, a transfer from Boston College, sat out last season as he recovered from knee ailments. He played a season-high 22 minutes.
Quentin Diboundje and Brandon Johnson had nine points apiece in the win. Valentino Pinedo scored five points. Ezra Ausar and Jaden Walker added three points each.
Felton grabbed 13 rebounds as ECU had a 39-32 advantage on the boards. Johnson snared seven caroms and had four assists.
The Pirates committed just nine turnovers while hitting 26 of 57 (45.6 percent) from the floor, nine of 27 behind the arc (33.3 percent) and 18 of 22 (81.8 percent) at the line.
UTA was led by 13 points from Kyron Gibson. Marion Humphrey added 10 for the Mavericks.
ECU travels to Old Dominion (3-3) on Saturday for a 7 p.m. tipoff.