The 2012-2013 East Carolina men’s basketball season has been one that has featured many exciting moments and historical milestones.
The Pirates saved their best for the last in Tuesday’s CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament championship.
Trailing the hosting Weber State Wildcats by six points —71-65— with 2:50 remaining in the game, ECU got off the mat and took the lead 74-73 with 27 seconds left to play.
Weber State responded with junior Davion Berry splitting a pair of free throws to tie the game. The Pirates had an opportunity to win on the last shot, and didn’t disappoint.
Senior Miguel Paul, who had a game-high 23 points, passed up the ball and found Akeem Richmond, who hit a game-winning three-pointer as time expired to seal the program’s first postseason tournament title, 77-74.
ECU (23-12) ties the program's 1953-1954 team for the most wins in a single-season and handed the Wildcats (30-7) their first home-defeat since Dec. 15.
Weber State entered the game with the nation’s best field goal percentage (50.5 percent) and despite shooting 53 percent Tuesday, they were outperformed by ECU’s 59 percent shooting-display from the field.
As they have done all season long,the Pirates leaned on the tournament’s most valuable player, senior Maurice Kemp.
Kemp collected his ninth straight twenty-point performance with 20 points and six rebounds.
But in the CIT Tournament, the team has played its best basketball of the season by getting everybody else involved
That was the difference in Tuesday’s championship win.
Juniors Robert Sampson and Ty Armstrong each finished in double-figures scoring with 12 points and 10 respectively with Sampson grabbing a team-high eight rebounds.
Richmond only had six points in 24 minutes-played, but stepped up to hit the biggest shot in the program’s history.
In the first half, both teams traded baskets before ECU pulled away in the half’s final minutes. Kemp converted on a last-second runner in the lane to tie the Pirates’ largest lead of the game, 42-35, going into halftime.
ECU shot an astounding 18-for-30 from the field—60 percent—in the first half.
Weber State came out of the locker room with newfound energy and went on an 11-2 run to take a 46-44 lead early in the second half.
The Pirates would right the ship and build another seven point lead—61-54—before the Wildcats fought back again.
Sparked by back-to-back 3’s and a pair of ECU turnovers, Weber State reeled off the biggest run on the game by scoring the next ten points and taking a 64-61 lead.
Unable to close in the Conference USA tournament against hosting Tulsa, it looked like ECU was going to be handed a similar fate when Weber State notched a 6-0 run to go ahead 71-65, after the game was tied at 65-65.
Before 10, 583 at Dee Events Center, the Wildcats opened the door for the Pirates by missing seven of its ten free throw attempts in the game’s final three minutes.
Kemp hit a triple to begin the rally. Then, following a pair a made-free throws by Miguel Paul and pair of misses by Kyle Tresnak, Sampson found a lane to basket to tie the game at 72.