GREENVILLE — East Carolina was dealt its first loss of the season by South Carolina Upstate, 83-81, in Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum on Wednesday night despite a career high 33 points by R.J. Felton in the absence of Brandon Johnson.
ECU (2-1) trailed 31-18 with 10:55 left in the first half but rallied to lead 69-62 with 9:03 remaining.
The visitors went ahead to stay at 75-74 with 4:52 to go on a driving layup by Trae Broadnax, who paced the Spartans (2-2) with 20 points and six rebounds.
Kansas transfer Bobby Pettiford Jr. missed the second of two free throws for the Pirates with five seconds remaining. Quintin Diboundje missed a go-ahead three from the right side before Ezra Ausar’s tying follow failed to fall as time expired.
“We didn’t guard the ball tonight,” said ECU coach Michael Schwartz on the Pirate radio network. ” … We didn’t do the job in areas that you have to do to be successful.”
Felton made 12 of 17 field goal attempts, including five of seven on threes. He hit all four of his free throws and pulled down a game-high nine rebounds.
Ausar finished with 24 points. Diboundje scored nine and Jaden Walker added eight points for the Pirates. Pettiford had four assists.
Upstate got 19 points from Justin Bailey, 14 from Miguel Ayesa, 13 from Ahmir Langlais and 12 from Nick Alves.
ECU starts play in the TowneBank Holiday Classic on Sunday at 2 p.m. at home against Northeastern (1-2).