A breakout performance from Kenny Pohto wasn’t enough for Wichita State in a 79-69 home loss to East Carolina Saturday afternoon at Charles Koch Arena.
Pohto set career-highs with 21 points on 9-of-13 shooting and 11 rebounds for the Shockers (7-7, 0-2 American) who enjoyed one of their better offensive showings but were let down by their normally reliable defense.
Brandon Johnson supplied 17 points and eight rebounds for ECU (10-5, 1-1), which overcame an eight-point deficit near the 14:00-mark of the second half by scoring on 18 of its final 25 trips.
The Pirates shot 44.6% from the field, ending WSU’s streak of six-straight games holding its opponent under 40%.
ECU made 10-of-25 from three and converted 19-of-22 free throws, including 10-for-10 in the last two minutes to keep the Shockers at bay.
WSU shot 42.9% including 9-of-24 from three.
Shammah Scott hit 5-of-7 from deep on his way to a personal-best 19 points, Jaron Pierre Jr. added 12 points and Jaykwon Walton handed out five assists.
Still limited by an ankle injury, Craig Porter Jr. hobbled through 17 minutes and finished with two points, two assists and a steal.
It was the Shockers’ first loss to ECU in seven American Athletic Conference meetings.
Pierre opened the game with back-to-back threes to help WSU build a 9-4 advantage before exiting with two quick fouls.
The Shockers missed nine of their next 10 shots, and ECU countered with a 17-3 run. Consecutive dunks from Ezra Ausar made it 21-12 Pirates near the midway point of the half.
Scott kept WSU afloat with four threes over a five-minute span. He finished the half with a team-high 12 points.
Pohto scored seven of his 10 first-half points over the final 2:18 to help narrow the deficit to 39-35 at the break.
WSU made just 1-of-10 threes in the second half after an 8-for-14 first-half showing but had success getting to the rim. Four of the team’s five dunks came in the final 20 minutes.
The Shockers opened with a 14-2 run, fueled by fast break points. Walton scored on back-to-back possessions for a 49-41 lead with 14:52 to play.
ECU was 1-for-9 with four turnovers in the first six minutes of the second half but committed just three more the rest of the afternoon. The Pirates made six straight and 10 of their next 15 shots to draw even and eventually pull away.
- Pohto became the fifth Shocker to top 20 points in a game this season (with Scott narrowly missing out on being No. 6).
- Pohto’s seven offensive rebounds were the most by a Shocker since the 2021 AAC tournament when Morris Udeze snagged seven in a win over South Florida.
- Scott’s 5-for-7 three-point shooting day came on the heels of a 2-for-13 start to this Shocker career. His season percentage jumped from .154 to .350.
- Per StatBroadcast, ECU’s 1.295 points-per-possession was the highest for a WSU opponent in the last two seasons.