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November 18, 2013

ECU Rallies Late for NIT Tipoff Win

DURHAM, N.C. - Paris Roberts-Campbell took over late in the game to lead ECU to another amazing 76-74 comeback win, this time over Norfolk State in the first round of the NIT Tip-Off at Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium. Akeeem Richmond added 16 with five three-pointers and forward Mike Zangari had perhaps his best game as a Pirate with 11 points in the victory.

East Carolina(4-0), who came into Monday night on an eight game winning streak, was down by as much as 17 points in the second half after leading by as much as ten early in the first half. ECU made another thrilling, patented Pirate comeback to take the victory over Norfolk State(2-2).

The Pirates will advance to take on Duke tomorrow night at 6 pm in second round action after the Blue Devils throttled UNC-Asheville 91-55.

Pendarvis Williams led Norfolk with 18 and Malcolm Hawkins had 16 points and 8 rebounds for the Spartans. Both played stellar ballgames for the Spartans.

"I don't know how we won the game. But I give our kids credit we got to the free throw line. We turned the ball over and got hurt on the glass, but give our kids credit for hitting some key shots down the stretch," said East Carolina head coach Jeff Lebo, "Paris made some key shots down the stretch. I though he was aggressive. Stith played aggressively with 12 rebounds in 26 minutes of play after getting in foul trouble."

After getting off to a fast 14-4 lead on three ECU bombs from Akeem Richmond in the first four minutes of the game, Perdarvis Williams canned a three-pointer, Malcolm Hawkins nailed a jumper and Anell Alexis hit a free throw. Suddenly Norfolk State had cut the lead to eight.

Following a pair of Marese Phelps baskets and two treys from ECU's Paris Roberts-Campbell, Norfolk continued to chip away at the Pirate lead. ECU forward Brandon Stith collected his third foul with 3:24 to go in the first half.

Hawkins scored three times in the last two minutes of the first period for Norfolk State including a 17 footer from the key as time expired for his tenth point to cut the ECU lead to one at 35-34 at intermission.

Akeem Richmond had eleven and Paris Robert-Campbell scored ten in the first twenty minutes of play as ECU hit 50 percent to Norfolk State's 40 percent at halftime including just 1 of 5 from three-point range. ECU hit 6 of 12 from the arc in the first period.

The Spartans wasted little time in the second half to add to their momentum with two Pendarvis Williams baskets, two from big Brandon Good and a drive from Jamal Fuentes that gave Norfolk State a 46-38 lead at the first media timeout. Michael Hawkins' lay-in gave the Spartans a commanding ten point lead before the 15 minute mark.

Marese Phelps' fast break lay-in off an assist from Fuentes extended Norfolk's lead to eleven at 56-45 with just under twelve minutes to play. Williams and Hawkins who added to the damage twice in a row gave Norfolk State a 62-47 cushion. Fuentes took an ECU turnover the other way for a 64-47 margin with 9:04 to play.

Paris Roberts-Campbell's three-pointer for ECU ended the Spartan run with 8:50 to go to cut the lead to 14.

The Pirates kept hanging around late on two Guilmette free throws and a Caleb White basket to trim the lead to eleven at 67-56 with six minutes to play. Prince Williams canned a free throw to cut the Spartan lead to ten at the 5:41 mark. White hit a free throw to trim the lead to nine - 67-58 with just over five minutes to go.

ECU guard Akeem Richmond canned a three-pointer off a Norfolk miss to cut the lead to six at 67-61. After two missed free throws from the big center Brandon Goode, he fouled out the next time down the court. Paris Roberts-Campbell got to the line where he hit one of two and the Pirates nabbed the rebound and tossed it to Akeem Richmond who canned a three-pointer to cut the lead to three with 4:20 remaining.

After two missed Norfolk free throws, Paris Roberts-Campbell drove to the hoop and was fouled by Malcolm Hawkins with 3:34 to go where he nailed a pair of free throws to cut the lead to just one at 68-67.

Two Fuentes misses from the charity stripe found ECU with the ball with a chance to take the lead where Paris Roberts-Campbell nailed a trey to give ECU a brief one point lead. A Riley Maye lay-in kept Norfolk in the game. Caleb White scored for ECU. Fuentes hit a jumper for the Spartans. Paris Roberts-Campbell scored and was fouled where he hit the free throw to give ECU a three point lead.

Williams scored for Norfolk and Richmond was called for a traveling violation. But Stith got a steal for the Pirates and with 6.3 seconds to go and a one point lead, Roberts-Campbell was fouled and hit one of two. Williams' last second shot went in for Norfolk St., but came after time expired as the Pirate make an another incredible comeback for their fourth straight win of the season and ninth straight dating back to last season.

Esst Carolina hit 44.7 percent of their shots from the floor including 40 percent of their 25 three-point attempts while Norfolk hit 46.3, but the big difference was Norfolk hitting only 14 percent from the arc on 2 of 14 shooting. The Pirates were out rebounded 45-33 and win the game despite 18 turnovers to 14 for the Spartans.

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