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ECU overwhelmed by Wichita State

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East Carolina's Seth LeDay, right, defends near the rim against Wichita State's Jamarcus Burton in Minges Coliseum on Feb. 6, 2019. (Molly Mathis/The Daily Reflector)

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

A trip to Minges Coliseum proved to be the best opportunity for Wichita State’s basketball team to record its first road victory of the season.

ECU, on the other hand, continued with struggles in shooting and rebounding in a 65-49 loss to the Shockers in Minges on Wednesday night.

The Pirates (9-13, 2-8 American Athletic Conference) faced more high-pressure defense on their freshman standout Jayden Gardner, who finished with 11 points and five rebounds and attempted four field goals, and they were out-rebounded, 46-27.

Wichita (11-11, 4-6), which got a game-high 18 points from guard Samaje Haynes-Jones thanks to his 7-for-9 shooting and 2-for-2 from 3-point range, came in with an 0-6 road record.

“They are looking at their schedule and saying that Houston is going to be a bear and so is Cincinnati, so we have to win at East Carolina and (other teams), and that’s how teams figure out how to win the league and how to be very good,” Pirate coach Joe Dooley said. “They figure out the games that they are supposed to win on the road. That is the mindset we have to change with our guys, to protect your home court and then try to steal some games on the road.”

The Pirates are 0-8 in road games this year.

ECU shot 34.6 percent from the field. WSU’s rebounding advantage included a boost from big man Asbjorn Midtgaard’s five offensive boards and 11 total. He scored six points.

The teams will meet again at Wichita on March 5. The Shockers, who joined the AAC last season and will likely have to win the AAC tournament to continue their streak of seven straight NCAA tournament appearances, won 95-60 in Minges in 2018.

This matchup featured ECU having its largest lead of two points when it was 11-9. The Shockers then scored eight straight points and stayed in front the rest of the way.

“That is the best we’ve played all year on the road, so it took that type of effort to win a game like this,” Shockers coach Gregg Marshall said. “We had seen when East Carolina beat Cincinnati here and with our road record, we couldn’t take anything for granted, and we didn’t. … The big guys were tremendous on the glass, and Dexter Dennis, I thought, did a great job (defending) on Gardner.”

In addition to Gardner, Pirate guard Isaac Fleming scored 11 points. ECU’s Seth LeDay played 15 minutes off the bench and did not score.

The Shockers took their first double-digit lead, 25-15, at the 5:29 mark of the opening half.

A 3-pointer by Dennis pushed the Shockers’ lead to 30-17 with 1:30 until halftime. It was 34-20 at the break.

“I think we rushed things a little bit in the first half,” Gardner said.

The Pirates cut it to a nine-point deficit, 38-29, with 15:46 remaining, but a Markis McDuffie 3 pushed it back to 12 points and the visitors led by as many as 21 with 4:15 left to play.

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

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