GREENVILLE, N.C. – Jeremiah Davenport and Mason Madsen led four Bearcats in double figures with 19 points each as Cincinnati defeated East Carolina 82-69 inside Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum on Sunday.
With the loss the Pirates drop to the No. 11 seed in the American Athletic Conference tournament and will face No. 6 UCF in the first round on Thursday, March 11, at 7 p.m. ET. Cincinati will be the No. 5 seed and take on fourth-seeded SMU in the quarterfinals on Friday.
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Keith Williams added 16 points and Mika Adams-Wood had 12 points for Cincinnati (10-10, 8-6 American Athletic Conference). Williams and Tari Eason grabbed six rebounds apiece for the Bearcats.
Madsen made 5-of-9 3-pointers and was 6-of-11 shooting overall en route to posting a career-high scoring total.
Cincinnati made 12-of-30 3-point attempts, while holding ECU (8-10, 2-10) to 4-of-17 outside the arc.
The Bearcats broke open a close game with eight minutes remaining as they scored nine points in 45 seconds to turn a two-point lead into an 11-point advantage, 64-53. Williams knocked down a 3 followed by Eason converting a 3-point play and Madsen making his third 3.
Davenport followed with another Bearcat 3-pointer to cap the run and give UC a 67-53 lead. Cincinnati’s lead reached 18 with 2:31 to play scoring 11 unanswered points after ECU pulled within seven, 67-60, with 5:32 remaining.
Jayden Gardner led the Pirates with 23 points with Tristen Newton and Brandon Suggs scoring 13 points each. Suggs also had a game-high eight rebounds.
The Pirates finished the game shooting 34.5 percent (19-of-55) and shot just 25.0 percent (3-of-12) in the game’s final nine minutes. The Bearcats were 7-of-13 with five 3s during that same stretch.
ECU trailed for the first 13 minutes of the game before JJ Miles sank a 3-pointer from the corner to give ECU a 28-25 lead with 6:31 remaining before halftime.
Five lead changes followed with Adams-Wood scoring the final basket of the stanza, sinking his second 3 to give the Bearcats a 37-35 halftime lead. Four more lead changes followed at the start of the second half before Cincinnati took the lead for good with 15:17 to play.
“Our offensive ineptness has put our defense in trouble. You can’t score and every time it puts so much pressure on your defense. We came out of the halftime and we knew they were going to throw the ball to the big fella, and we give up a layup. We sort of eased back into it, but we do need to make some shots. A lot of it is timing and a lot of that is repetition. We’ll try to do that the next couple of days.” – ECU Head Coach Joe Dooley
“We’ve just to keep working and get past these things. Just next shot, next shot mentality. We’re always going to keep working. But we have to be able to make that jump. And once we do, I think we’ll be able to stay in these games. It’s always a quick two-minute stretch where we can’t hit anything, and things go wrong.” – Junior forward Jayden Gardner
ECU finished with 18 assists on 19 made field goals for its best assist/field goals made percentage of the season (.947).
The Pirates lost for only the second time this season when they had more assists (18) than turnovers (9). ECU is now 8-2 when registering more assists than turnovers.
Gardner posted his 10th 20-point game of the season and 33rd of his career. He has scored 20 or more in more than 40 percent (.4125) of the 80 games he has played in his career.
Gardner shot double-digit free throws for the fifth straight game. He has made 42-of-57 (.736) free-throw attempts during those games.
Newton scored double figures for the second straight game and third time in five games.
Suggs matched his season-high for rebounds with eight.
Debaut posted career-bests for free throws made (5) and attempted (6).