The East Carolina men’s basketball team didn’t need late-game heroics, or even a spectacular three-point shooting display to advance to the third round of the CollegeInsider.com Postseason tournament.
On the heels of a 16-3 run by the visiting Rider Broncs—leading 37-36—the Pirates reeled off a 32-8 run of their own to seal a 75-54 win Saturday night.
ECU (20-12) captured its first twenty-win season since the 1953-1954 campaign and will host its third round game Tuesday night at 7 pm against an opponent yet to be determined.
Maurice Kemp led the way with 20 points and a game-high 15 rebounds for his sixth 20-point performance of the season. Blue Edwards was the last Pirate to accomplish the feat in 1989.
Despite two early fouls, junior forward Ty Armstrong had a bounce back game—scoring 20 points—which paid huge dividends with point guard Miguel Paul getting into foul trouble.
Paul was charged his fourth foul with 13:21 remaining in the game and sat out the rest of the game; allowing other players to step up.
Freshman walk-on Prince Williams certainly did.
Williams doubled his career-high with eight points, while collecting seven boards in the thirteen minutes he played.
“He waited for his moment and he seized it,” said ECU coach Jeff Lebo.
ECU broke its recent trend of stumbling out of the gate by taking dictating the game early. They jumped out to a 9-2 advantage and would lead by as many as fourteen points—34-20—before Rider (19-15) showed any resistance. The Broncs closed the half on a 9-1 run to lead and went into the locker room only trailing 35-29.
Rider’s momentum carried over into the second half, outscoring ECU 7-2 to cut the hosts’ lead to a point.
That’s when the Pirates woke up and took control of the game. In the midst of their 32-8 spurt, Kemp elevated and threw down one of the most emphatic slams of the season, while atop a Rider defender.
The dunk put the 3,886 in attendance at Minges Coliseum in a frenzy and served as the explanation point of a dominant performance.
“It happened so fast, I can’t tell you exactly how it went,” said Kemp of the play, “I just wanted to attack the basket as hard as possible and it turned out well for me.”
ECU only shot 4-for-19 from three-point range, but outscored Rider 42-16 in the paint and held them to 27 percent shooting from the field (16-for-59).
Jonathon Thompson and Anthony Myles were the only two Broncs who finished in double-figures scoring, with Thompson logging a team-high 18 points.
Robert Sampson had nine points to go along with his nine points, while Akeem Richmond was held in check for eight points.
Playing an abbreviated 26 minutes, Paul scored five points but still collected a game-high eight assists.