East Carolina University men’s basketball team’s brief postseason appearance ended in a 73-57 loss to Wichita State in the first round of the American Athletic Conference tournament on Thursday in Memphis.
- 3-0 sweep: Wichita State went 3-0 against the Pirates this season and dominated each and every matchup. The first matchup on Feb. 6 in in Greenville went the Shockers way by a score of 65-49. The rematch in Wichita, Kansas a month later was won again by the Shockers 72-55. This time it was 73-57. Between all three games, Wichita State outscored ECU by 49 points.
- Record-setting freshman: Freshman forward Jayden Gardner, a bright spot for the Pirate future, set some new records in the season-ending loss. Gardner led the Pirates with 16 points and six rebounds, but more importantly he became the third freshman in AAC history to score 500 points in a season, joining Memphis’ Dedric Lawson (521) and USF’s Jahmal McMurray (500). Gardner also became the all-time leading freshman scorer in ECU history, passing ECU Hall of Famer Lester Lyons (494 points).
- Turnover problem: ECU had done well over the second half of the season to not turn the ball over more than its opponent. That’s exactly what happened against Wichita State, however, as ECU turned the ball over 12 times to the Shockers’ eight. Wichita State scored 14 points off of ECU turnovers, while the Pirates produced only two points off the Shockers turnovers. The first half was especially bad, with ECU committing 10 of its 12 turnovers.
- Rebound issue: ECU head coach Joe Dooley knew his team would have its hands full with the Shockers’ size. Wichita State outrebounded ECU in all three games this season, by margins of 46-27, 47-37 and 44-34. A bigger problem was that 17 of Wichita State’s 27 rebounds were offensive rebounds which led to 21 second chance points. That’s glaring compared with ECU’s six offensive rebounds and four second chance points. It helped mitigate the fact that ECU actually shot better from the field and from 3-point range in the loss.
- End of the road: Thursday night’s loss officially ended the career for three ECU basketball players. Isaac Fleming, Addison Hill and Justice Obasohan. Fleming, who transferred from Hawaii, had a really strong finish to his senior year and remains the only player in ECU history to record a triple-double and even did it twice. Hill was a hometown product from local South Central High School in Winterville, North Carolina and worked his way toward a few starts for Dooley this season. Obasohan didn’t see as big of a role as Fleming or Hill but still made impacts here and there throughout his senior season.
ECU’s record finishes at 10-21 in Dooley’s first season back at the helm. Wichita State moves on to face Temple in the next round of the AAC tournament.