GREENVILLE, SC — R.J. Felton scored 21 points as East Carolina used a dominant first half to down South Carolina, 64-56, at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena on Saturday.
ECU improved to 8-4 in the opening game of the first annual Greenville Winter Invitational. Furman subsequently downed Stephen F. Austin, 72-70, before Clemson rolled past Richmond, 85-57.
Felton hails from Aiken, SC, about two hours from the facility formerly known as the BI-LO Center, but now referred to as “The Well.”
Felton felt comfortable playing in front of family and friends.
“I’m glad to be playing in my home state,” Felton told the Pirate radio network. “I want to give a shout out to my folks over there and back at the crib. I’m very excited.”
Felton hit eight of 13 shots from the floor, including three of six from behind the arc. He made both of his free throws, had three steals and added three assists.
“The way R.J. works every single day, the way R.J. prepares himself for practice, … he’s just got a business-like approach that we want everybody to have,” said first-year coach Michael Schwartz. “Guys are getting it. There’s other guys coming along with that.”
The Pirates were on the same page in jumping to a 12-0 lead and moving on to a 37-18 advantage at the half.
The Gamecocks (5-6) got no closer than seven points after intermission as ECU evened the overall series at 6-6.
Javon Small had 12 points and six assists for ECU. Benjamin Bayela had nine points and two steals. Ezra Ausar had the first basket of the game in scoring eight points with four steals. Jaden Walker had six points and seven rebounds. Brandon Johnson contributed six points and five rebounds.
The Pirates made 14 of 26 field goal attempts in the first half for 53.8 percent. ECU was seven for 13 from beyond the arc in the first 20 minutes, also 53.8 percent.
Hayden Brown led South Carolina with 15 points. Meechie Johnson and Greg Jackson II had 13 points each.
High Point visits the Pirates on Wednesday for a 6 p.m. tipoff. The Panthers are 8-1 going into a game at UNC-Wilmington on Sunday at 2 p.m.