Friday, April 05, 2013

East Carolina: 2013 College Tournament Champions

 — Greenville Daily Reflector — What better way to end the best East Carolina men’s basketball season ever than with a buzzer-beater to win the school’s first-ever postseason championship?
Akeem Richmond nailed a 3-pointer as time expired to lead the Pirates to a 77-74 win against Weber State in the title game of the tournament on Tuesday in the Dee Events Center. The win pushed East Carolina’s record to 23-12, equaling the school record for single-season victories and adding to the most the Pirates have won as a Division I program.It was only the second shot Richmond made all game, but he will have a hard time hitting a more important one. Like he has done so many times in his stellar two-year Pirates career, East Carolina senior point guard Miguel Paul, who led all players with 23 points and six assists, penetrated into the lane, drew defenders to him and fired a two-hand overhead pass to a waiting Richmond, who hit nothing but net from right in front of the East Carolina bench.“(Paul) actually told me he was going to do that at the 2-minute mark,” said Richmond, a junior who helped send four Pirates seniors – Paul, Maurice Kemp, Shamarr Bowden and Corvonn Gaines – out as winners. “He told me he was going to come to me. I was just being patient. I shoot the ball with a lot of confidence even though I haven’t been shooting the ball (too) well. My dad always taught me to shoot the ball with confidence so, when it left my hands, I knew it was good.”Kemp, the tournament’s most valuable player, scored 20 points and grabbed six rebounds for East Carolina. It was the 6-foot-8 senior’s ninth consecutive game with at least 20 points and his fourth straight with exactly 20.Junior forward Robert Sampson who, like Paul, made the all-tournament first team, added 12 points and a game-high eight rebounds while Ty Armstrong scored 10, all in the first half.After the Pirates built a 61-54 cushion on two Paul free throws at the 8-minute, 16-second mark, Weber State (30-7) reeled off an 18-4 run and led 72-68 with 2:07 left.At the 21-second mark, the Wildcats’ Davion Berry hit a free throw to tie the game at 74, setting up Richmond’s shot, which was released a millisecond before the buzzer. After an official review, the 3 stood and East Carolina secured the biggest win in a season full of them.“We knew it was going to be really, really difficult,” third-year East Carolina coach Jeff Lebo said, referring to Weber State’s 17-1 home record prior to Tuesday. “No one’s really been close to them in here. To do it the way we did it was just phenomenal.”

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