Balanced offense helps ECU men's basketball past UMES

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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - Freshman Jayden Gardner scored 22 points and three other starters added 10 points each as ECU defeated Maryland Eastern Shore, 70-47, inside Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum Sunday.

"We got off to a good start and I thought we had some offensive flow," ECU Head Coach Joe Dooley said. "We had the lead after halftime we just relaxed too much and took our foot off the gas… and you can't do that if you want to get really good, so we got to continue to work on those type of things."

Shawn Williams, Seth LeDay and K.J. Davis each finished with 10 points as part of balanced ECU offense that finished the game with a 42-28 rebounding advantage and had more assists than turnovers in four games.

The Pirates (6-4) rushed out to a 13-2 lead in the first seven minutes, scoring 11 unanswered points with four different players contributing to the run, while the Hawks (1-8) missed nine consecutive shots and were just 2-of-12 to start the game.

ECU nearly doubled its lead over the next seven minutes as it built a 21-point advantage, 29-8, with six minutes left until halftime. Its first half lead peaked at 24 points, 36-12, as Williams drained his second 3-pointer of the half with 4:17 left before the end of the stanza.

UMES guard Ryan Andino banked in a 3-pointer as the time ran out in the first half and ECU went into halftime with a 21-point lead, 42-21.

ECU shot 55.6 percent (15-of-27) from the floor in the first half, scoring 14 points in the paint and drilling five 3-pointers, while forcing 10 turnovers and holding the Hawks to 37.5 percent (9-of-24) shooting.

The Hawks used a 21-12 run to pull within 12, 54-42, with 6:58 to play before the Pirates answered with 10-1 spurt to push their lead back over 20 as Davis buried a 3 with three minutes to play.

Montaz Oliver and A.J. Cheeseman led UMES with 14 points.

The Pirates return to action December 18 at Charlotte.

Fans can catch a complete recap of the game and the season from Coach Dooley on Monday, Dec. 3, the first installment of the Joe Dooley Show will commence at Logan's Roadhouse on Greenville Blvd. in Greenville starting at 6 p.m. Fans are invited to come out to Logan's Roadhouse and talk Pirate basketball with Coach Dooley and "Voice of the Pirates" Jeff Charles.