ESTERO, Fla. – East Carolina’s attempt at a fourth straight comeback victory fell short on Monday afternoon as the Pirates were defeated 79-75 by Indiana State in the first round of the Gulf Coast Showcase at Hertz Arena.

Javon Small scored a new career-high of 27 points to lead the Pirates (3-1) and Brandon Johnson earned his second straight double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds. Kalib LaCount and Quentin Diboundje rounded out the Pirates’ scorers in double figures with 13 and 12 respectively.

Courvoisier McCauley and Xavier Bledson each scored 16 points for Indiana State (4-0).

The Pirates got off to another slow start as the Sycamores raced out to a quick 13-4 lead heading into the first media timeout at the 15:52 mark. Coming out of the timeout, ECU started to find its rhythm to cut the lead to one on a fastbreak layup by Diboundje and stayed within striking distance of Indiana State trailing 43-38 at the break.

ECU couldn’t find its second-half magic early as Indiana State grew its lead to as much as 16 with 8:29 remaining in the game. The Pirates forced six straight misses from the Sycamores and started to eat away at the 16-point deficit, getting as close as three points after three free throws from Benjamin Bayela made it 73-70. Indiana State scored on the next possession and made six free throws to put the game away and hand the Pirates their first loss of the season.

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East Carolina will face Toledo who dropped their opening game to Kansas City. The game is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Tuesday and will be streamed via FloHoops.