GREENVILLE — East Carolina closed Saturday’s American Athletic Conference contest with Southern Methodist on a 10-5 run for a 77-72 win in Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum.
Brandon Johnson had 27 points as ECU evened its overall record at 12-12. Ezra Ausar added 19 points and 13 rebounds as the Pirates improved to 3-8 in the AAC. R.J. Felton had 18 points and Jaden Walker totaled eight assists.
Felton played all 40 minutes as Coach Mike Schwartz shortened the rotation. Walker played 39 minutes. Johnson had 36 minutes and Ausar was on the court for 35 minutes.
Quintin Diboundje had nine points in 25 minutes.
“Very proud of our guys,” said Schwartz on the ECU radio network. “We obviously didn’t go deep into our bench and they sustained defensive intensity the whole time. I thought that was big.”
The Pirates forged their biggest lead at 38-25 with 1:31 left in the first half and were on top, 40-32, at intermission.
The Mustangs (8-16, 3-8 AAC) tied the score at 67 with 1:53 to go.
Two free throws by Diboundje with 1:37 remaining put ECU ahead to stay.
The Pirates made 25 of 56 field goal attempts, 44.6 percent, including eight of 18 from beyond the arc, 44.4 percent. ECU sank 19 of 23 free throws, 82.6 percent.
The Pirates had a 37-35 rebounding advantage. The Mustangs had 10 turnovers and ECU had 11.
Zhuric Phelps led the visitors with 23 points.
The Pirates return to action on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Tulane (15-7, 8-3), which won, 90-89, in overtime at Memphis on Saturday. The Green Wave hosts Cincinnati on Tuesday night. The ECU-Tulane game will be shown on ESPN+.