Men’s basketball falls in Bahamas opener

Aces lost by 85-68 final on Friday

Men’s basketball falls in Bahamas opener

NASSAU, Bahamas (WFIE) -East Carolina scored the first nine points on Friday and did not look back, finishing with an 85-68 win over the University of Evansville men’s basketball team in the Islands of the Bahamas Showcase.

Noah Frederking and Sam Cunliffe led Evansville (3-2) with 17 points apiece. Both connected on five triples apiece. Artur Labinowicz finished the night with 12. With the loss, UE will take on George Washington on Saturday at 1 p.m. CT

“They played harder than us; we were also selfish,” Aces head coach Walter McCarty said. “Our guys need to understand that after beating Kentucky, we have a target on us. Our guys did not come to play tonight. When we do not play the right way, it gets contagious. We need to regroup and be ready for George Washington tomorrow.”

Evansville did not get the start it was looking for as East Carolina (2-3) jumped out to a 9-0 lead in the first four minutes. The Pirates forced five UE turnovers during that span. Artur Labinowicz put UE on the board with a pair of free throws, but the ECU run continued as they took a 16-2 lead. Evansville missed its first 10 shots of the night.

Sam Cunliffe hit a 3-pointer for UE’s first field goal of the game with 9:27 left in the half. His basket started a 9-0 run as the Seattle native drained another triple before Noah Frederking drained a three to make it a 16-11 game.

The Pirates quickly bounced back with the next four points before another UE run cut their deficit to just a pair in the final minute. Trailing 23-15, K.J. Riley connected on his first shot of the game before Frederking’s second triple capped off a 5-0 run. Riley added a layup with 55 ticks left in the half that made it a 28-26 game. The Pirates had the final basket of the half and entered halftime up by a 30-26 tally.

After East Carolina extended their lead in the opening minutes of the second half, Cunliffe continued his precision from outside, knocking down another triple to make it a 36-32 contest. The momentum did not last too long as the Pirates were able to regroup and extend their lead back to 13 points at 53-40.

UE continued to hit 3-pointers to stay within striking distance with Labinowicz, Marcus Henderson and Shamar Givance each hitting a triple to cut the ECU lead to 10. Over the final minutes, the Aces could not get over the hump and fell by a final of 85-68.

Jayden Gardner led the Pirates with 28 points and 10 rebounds. He was 11-for-17 from the floor. Tristan Newton scored 18 with Seth LeDay and Brandon Suggs posting 12 and 10, respectively.

East Carolina shot 53.6% for the game while holding Evansville to 38.0%. The Pirates also finished with a 42-23 edge on the glass.

Courtesy: UE Athletics

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