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ECU begins league slate at SMU


East Carolina's Jayden Gardner, left, shoots against Maryland-Eastern Shore on Dec. 2.


The Daily Reflector

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

East Carolina’s first American Athletic Conference basketball matchup of the season will come in a game featuring two of the league’s top three scorers.

ECU freshman Jayden Gardner, a 6-foot-6, 245-pound forward from Wake Forest, is second in the AAC at 19.0 points per game. The Pirates (7-5) closed their nonconference schedule last Friday with a 77-57 home win versus North Carolina A&T and Gardner totaled 27 points and 13 rebounds, giving him five double-doubles already in this campaign.

Leading SMU (8-4), which hosts the Pirates tonight at 8 (EST) in Moody Coliseum and the game is available to stream on ESPN3, is senior guard Jahmal McMurray and his 18.7 scoring average that ranks third in the AAC. Wichita State big man Markis McDuffie is first in the league at 19.5 ppg.

Beginning conference play also serves as ECU’s start to returning to a more regulated schedule and break between games. The Pirates played only three times in December, going 2-1 in beating Maryland-Eastern Shore on Dec. 2, losing at Charlotte on Dec. 18 and then handling N.C. A&T soundly on Dec. 28.

“I think we put some new stuff in (during December), but I think we actually got better at some of the stuff that we already had in,” Pirate first-year coach Joe Dooley said of the Pirate offense. “With this team being young, we are going to need to keep things pretty simple. To give this team confidence, we just need to maybe do it more and continue to get better at some simple things.”

ECU’s lone home game during its opening four-game AAC slate is Saturday afternoon versus Cincinnati.

Shawn Williams is averaging 14.3 points per game and has made 21 of his 56 3-point attempts.

The Pirates are 4-14 all-time against the Mustangs, the last victory coming in 2012 in Dallas. SMU has won nine straight in the series since then.

This SMU team is 6-1 in its last seven outings. That stretch included beating Wright State by one point, winning at Georgetown and most recently recording an 81-53 rout of Cornell on Dec. 22.

SMU played four games in December, going 3-1 with a loss to TCU.

McMurray scored 14 points versus Cornell and it was fellow guard Jimmy Whitt Jr. who led the way with 22 points. He was 10-for-15 on field goals and added six rebounds, four assists and three steals.

ECU and SMU played twice last season and the Mustangs won both matchups by an average margin of 22 points.

Contact Ronnie Woodward at rwoodward@reflector.com, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.


Humans of Greenville


Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.


January 18, 2019

Last year, East Carolina women’s lacrosse was new enough that the team and its coaches did not yet know what they didn’t know.

As the team’s second-ever season is set to begin, so too is a whole new understanding of the game and its many nuances at the top college level. The 2018…


January 17, 2019

A letter from East Carolina athletics director Jon Gilbert addressed his first month-plus in charge of Pirate athletics and it also looked ahead to the future.

Gilbert posted an open letter to fans on the Pirates’ official website Thursday, saying that he will regularly use these “From…


January 17, 2019

One intriguing aspect of Wednesday night’s 85-74 victory for Temple basketball in Minges Coliseum was that Temple’s best player is senior guard Shizz Alston Jr. and East Carolina’s best player is freshman forward Jayden Gardner.

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January 16, 2019

Maryland’s hire of former East Carolina football head coach Scottie Montgomery as its offensive coordinator was made official by the Terrapins on Thursday. He also will serve as quarterbacks coach.

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January 16, 2019

Things went according to plan for East Carolina basketball in front of an eager and enthusiastic crowd for the first 10 seconds Wednesday night in Minges Coliseum.

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January 16, 2019

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January 16, 2019

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January 15, 2019

Shawn Williams was the 2018 American Athletic Conference basketball rookie of the year, and this season he has seen East Carolina teammate and freshman Jayden Gardner firmly put himself in position for a Pirate to potentially win the award for the second straight year.

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January 14, 2019

Jayden Gardner continues to thrive as a freshman basketball player for East Carolina, including recently taking over as the American Athletic Conference’s leading scorer, and his praise continued Monday when he was lauded again by the AAC.

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January 14, 2019

Ryan Robinson had a family member at the 2014 North Carolina-East Carolina football game, when the Pirates beat UNC 70-41 in front of an ECU record crowd of 51,082 at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, and he received rave reviews about that afternoon in Greenville.

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