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Shockers make return to Minges

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East Carolina's Shawn Williams (55) guards Wichita State's Landry Shamet in Minges Coliseum on Jan. 11, 2018. Williams in third on ECU in scoring this season at 11.1 points per game.

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Wichita State and East Carolina are both in the bottom third of the American Athletic Conference basketball standings and both are looking to find a winning formula late in the regular season.

They meet tonight at Minges Coliseum. Tip-off is set for 7.

ECU (9-12, 2-7) is 1-6 in its last seven games. It struggled in the second half again on Sunday, falling 76-52 at Connecticut in a game that featured the Huskies finishing with a 44-25 advantage in rebounds. Pirate freshman standout Jayden Gardner was held to nine points and six rebounds.

Wichita, which has been to seven straight NCAA tournaments, has won consecutive games but still has a losing overall record at 10-11. The Shockers are 3-6 in league play, ranking ninth in the AAC standings and two spots ahead of the next-to-last Pirates.

“I think the stress of trying to play hard and we are not very deep and not very experienced, that can all add up,” Pirate coach Joe Dooley said before Tuesday’s practice. “(Wichita State) is deceptive, too, because when you look at our league, there are nine teams in the top 150 of the RPI (rankings) and seven in the top 100. They are inexperienced too, for them, but they also have a culture for winning and some guys who are used to winning.”

The Shockers and Pirates met for the first and only time in their history last season, when No. 5 Wichita State ran away with a 95-60 victory in Minges.

This WSU team features AAC leading scorer Markis McDuffie, a 6-foot-8 senior scoring at 18.9 points per game. Many of the Shockers have struggled in shooting, however, as they rank last in the league with a 41.3 field goal percentage. ECU is 11th with a 42.0 percentage.

ECU will travel to Wichita State on March 5.

Gardner is averaging 18.3 points and 9.2 rebounds per game after the UConn loss.

“I’m pretty torn up, but I just have to play through it because my team needs me,” the Wake Forest native said when asked about how his body feels at this point in the season. “I just have to keep pushing.”

Women at UConn

East Carolina heads north for one of the most difficult challenges for any team in women’s basketball. 

ECU (11-10, 2-6 American), which is coming off a 63-61 win over Tulane to stop a five-game losing streak, plays at No. 5 Connecticut tonight. UConn (19-2, 8-0) already has two losses this season, to Baylor and last Thursday to Louisville in a top-5 showdown, but the powerful Huskies’ unbeaten mark so far in the American Athletic Conference has extended its streak of never losing an AAC game.

The Pirates, who lead the American in steals, are 0-9 all-time against UConn. After playing at the Huskies, East Carolina will host four of its final seven regular season games.

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

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