East Carolina shot block holds off Cincinnati, 73-71

GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP/ECU) - KJ Davis scored 17 points, Shawn Williams 16 and Jayden Gardner scored seven of his 13 points down the stretch as East Carolina held off defending conference champion Cincinnati 73-71 with the help of Justice Obasohan's last-second block on Saturday.

Gardner tipped in a blocked shot, pushing East Carolina's lead to 72-66 with 20.9 seconds left, but Justin Jennifer nailed a 3-pointer just three seconds later and Tre Scott made two free throws with six seconds to go, pulling the Bearcats to 73-71.

Cincinnati (12-3, 1-1 American Athletic Conference) got the ball back when ECU was whistled for a five-second violation, but Jarron Cumberland's drive to tie with one second left was denied by Obasohan.

Cumberland led Cincinnati with 18 points, five rebounds and four assists. Nysier Brooks scored 15 and blocked three shots, Keith Williams added 13 and Scott 12.

Gardner pulled down 12 rebounds for his sixth double-double of the season for the Pirates (8-6, 1-1) and coach Joe Dooley notched his first American Conference win.

ECU Athletics Recap:

Justice Obasohan blocked Cincinnati's game-tying attempt and after the final horn sounded, ECU players rushed the floor to celebrate the team's most significant win under head coach Joe Dooley, who retook the reigns of the program in April.

"I thought it was a really good team win and the big thing was that the guys believed that they could win today," Dooley said after the Pirates held off the Bearcats 73-71 Saturday afternoon. "When things weren't going right, we didn't cave in and the team dug their heels in and I'm proud of them."

K.J. Davis scored a career-high 17 points, Shawn Williams added 16 and Jayden Gardner scored seven of his 13 points down the stretch, including tipping in a blocked shot to push the Pirates' lead to 72-66 with 20.9 seconds left.

Justin Jennifer nailed a 3-pointer just three seconds later and Tre Scott made two free throws with six seconds to go, pulling the Bearcats to 73-71.

Cincinnati (12-3, 1-1 American Athletic Conference) got the ball back when ECU was whistled for a five-second violation, but Jarron Cumberland's drive to tie with one second left was denied by Obasohan.

"The guys did a nice job of not panicking," ECU Head Coach Joe Dooley said. "Obviously it helps when you make some shots. I'm not surprised we won, I'm surprised we scored 73 points. They're such a good defensive team."

The Pirates fell behind 9-0in the first five minutes before Davis entered the game and scored five straight points to ignite his team and the crowd.

After starting 0-of-6 from the floor, ECU made 13-of-19 field goal attempts to close out the half and outscored the Bearcats 36-18 and lead by nine at halftime, 36-27.

Cincinnati wasted little time erasing its deficit and reclaimed the lead 4:18 into the second half, opening the frame with 12-2 spurt. However, ECU wasn't deterred. Four lead changes ensued over the next eight minutes before Williams put the Pirates ahead for good with 7:11 to play.

Cumberland led Cincinnati with 18 points, five rebounds and four assists. Nysier Brooks scored 15 and blocked three shots, Keith Williams added 13 and Scott 12.

"I thought the team that deserved to win won today," Cincinnati Head Coach Mick Cronin said. "They (ECU) had humility and we played with a lot of arrogance. We were too good to scrap and fight and when we did, it was too little too late. We got what we deserved. I'm happy for Joe and I thought his kids played well so give them all the credit."

ECU became the first team to shoot over 50 percent from the field against the Bearcats this season, finishing with a season-high clip of 51.1 percent (24-of-47).

The Pirates' seventh-ranked 3-point field goal percent defense held the Bearcats to a season-low 15.8 percent (3-of-19) shooting outside the arc.

Gardner pulled down 12 rebounds for his sixth double-double of the season for the Pirates (8-6, 1-1) and earn Coach Dooley his first American conference win.

ECU begins a two-game road swing Thursday at Memphis followed by a visit to preseason conference favorite UCF on Sunday.