ECU falls at Central Florida despite Gardner’s big game

The Pirates freshman star scored 35 points and grabbed 20 rebounds in his team's 76-65 loss

Members of the East Carolina basketball team huddle during a recent game (ECU athletics photo)

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Aubrey Dawkins scored 18 points and UCF beat East Carolina 76-65 on Sunday for its seventh straight win despite a 35-point, 20-rebound performance by freshman forward Jayden Gardner.

Gardner posted personal bests in collecting his seventh double-double. He had 17 points and 10 rebounds at halftime but the Pirates (8-8, 1-3) trailed by 12.

UCF maintained its double-figure lead most of the second half but a 3-point play by Gardner got the Pirates within six with 3:22 remaining. However, UCF’s Terrell Allen scored six points in a 10-5 game-ending run.

The Knights’ win streak is the program’s longest since the 2010-11 team started the season 14-0. UCF has beaten ECU seven straight times.

B.J. Taylor added 14 points, Collin Smith 12 and Tacko Fall 10 for UCF, which made just 22 of 41 free throws while ECU was 14 of 24. Allen had four of UCF’s 11 steals. Dawkins is the son of Knights coach and former Duke star Johnny Dawkins.

Gardner  joins Dedric Lawson of Memphis as the only freshmen in AAC history to score 35 points in a game. He is also he first freshman in conference history to grab 20 rebounds in a game and is the the fifth player in conference history to have three 30-point games in a season.