GREENSBORO, N.C. - It was the Tavon Saddler show for UNC-G, but Akeem Richmond got the better of it in the end, nailing three free throws with 1.2 seconds to play to lift East Carolina(2-0) from the dead, 85-84, in the Greensboro Coliseum on a cold Tuesday night.
Richmond led the Pirates with 19 points including a four point play, Paris Roberts-Campbell scored 16, Caleb White had 13, Marshall Guilmette hit for 12 points and Brandon Stith had ten for the Pirates.
"I told myself I was going to step up there with confidence and hit the free throws," Richmond said, "I told the guys it wasn't any pressure, we're just going to hit the free throws and get back to Greenville."
Saddler scored from inside and outside for 34 points and the Pirates couldn't find a way to slow him down. In the end, it didn't really matter. Nick Paulos and Kyle Cain scored 16 apiece for UNC-Greensboro(1-1) in a losing cause.
The Pirates came into the game leading the all-time series 9-2, including winning the last six in a row against the Spartans. They made it seven in a row Tuesday night.
"Well I just said to the media we just robbed the bank. They deserved to win the game but that was a good lesson for us. We competed til the end, we made a ton of mistakes. I didn't think we were physical to start the game but we calmed down a little. We had to go small."
With the new rules, a lot more fouls will be called and it's frustrating to the players, coaches and fans according to Lebo.
"We're going to see a ton of free throws shot during the year and a ton of fouls called," said ECU head coach Jeff Lebo, "I think it's going to take a year or maybe two to make the adjustment to the way they're calling it now. We competed our butt off. We gave them points every way you could possible do so. We're going to look bad at times, especially on the road. It will be nice to teach tomorrow. We learned a lot tonight. We'll get better and better. We got good play with five guys in double figures. The two freshmen will get better and better. Paris and Akeem played awfully well even though they didn't shoot it particularly well."
The Pirates fell behind early 17-4 in the first half as Saddler and Kyle Cain scored three times apiece in the early going. ECU shot at 21 percent in the first 13 minutes of the contest while UNC-G shot the basketball pretty well at 50 percent.
Caleb White slammed home a two handed jam for East Carolina to cut the lead to 25-13 with 8:21 to go in the first half.
ECU's Antonio Robinson collected his third foul at the seven minute mark of the first half and the Pirates went into a zone defense that paid dividends in the last ten minutes of the half.
Two Saddler free throws put UNC-G up 29-14, Robinson hit a trey for ECU, Cain a jumper for the Spartans and Caleb White knocked one down for the Pirates in a 31-18 game in the first half.
An Akeem Richmond three-pointer for ECU cut the lead to eight, 31-23, at the six minute mark. Paris Roberts-Campbell knocked down two free throws and suddenly the Pirates clawed their way back to 31-25.
Paris Roberts-Campbell's trey made it 33-25 before Nicholas Paulos answered for UNC-G with a trey of his own as the two teams exchanged baskets late in the first half. Cain's free throw put the Spartans up by ten points before White answered with a jumper for ECU. Tyrone Outlaw canned two free throws to give UNC-G a ten point 40-30 lead at halftime.
Saddler and Cain led UNC-G in scoring in the first half with 16 and 10 while Caleb White led all Pirates will 11 points at intermission as ECU only connected on 9 of 32 shots for 28 percent and only 3 of 14 from the arc in the first half.
Both teams traded baskets early in the second period. Akeem Richmond cut the lead to seven at the 17:11 mark with a three-point jumper. Two Guilmette free throws for ECU trimmed the lead to 47-42 with 16:30 to go.
ECU forward Mike Zangari found Paris Roberts-Campbell in transition off of a steal for a bucket to cut the lead to three at 51-48. After a turnover and an ECU timeout, the Pirates trimmed the lead to one when an Akeem Richmond drive and free throw gave ECU a 53-51 lead with 12 minutes to play.
A Tavon Saddler drive for a bucket and missed free throw after the foul gave UNC-G a chance for a Paulos three-point jumper that he made for a five point play to give the Spartans some breathing room at 58-55.
Paris Roberts-Campbell scored on a drive to the hoop for ECU and he was fouled with 6:45 to go. Paris hit the free throw to cut the lead to 61-58.
Sadler got to the charity stripe again to push UNC-G's lead to five with 6:10 to go. After an ECU miss by Guilmette, Saddler was at it again in transition to push the UNC-G lead to five.
Paris Roberts-Campbell's left hand layup cut the lead to three. Sadler got right back to the foul line for the Spartans for his 28th point. After a missed second free throw attempt, UNC-G got the rebound and where Tyrone Outlaw was fouled and hit two free throws to extend UNC-G's lead further.
But Richmond nailed a three-pointer from 28 feet and was fouled to cut the UNC-G lead to three. The free throw for the four-point play cut the lead to two inside the four minute mark.
A two hand jam by Brandon Stith cut the lead to three with 2:23 to play. Sadler answered with a basket before Akeem Richmond tossed in a three pointer to trim the lead to two. Paulos' basket extended the lead back to four.
But Mike Zangari's bucket cut the lead to just two. Caleb White fouled Saddler on the inbounds pass who hit two free throws for his 33rd and 34th points with :39 seconds for a four point lead.
Prince Williams was fouled and nailed two free throws to make it a two point game
Cain's basket made it a four point game before ECU freshman forward Caleb White was fouled and hit two free throws to cut the lead to two with 12 seconds left. Richmond stole the ball away on a loose ball that went out of bounds and was ruled ECU's ball.
ECU's Richmond was subsequently fouled on a missed three-point attempt in the last 1.2 seconds of the contest.
Down by two with 1.2 to go, Richmond nailed three free throws to give ECU the lead by one with 1.2 seconds to play. UNC-G was unable to hit the shot from halfcourt as time expired and the Pirates escaped with an incredible win.
The Pirates shot at a 40 percent clip for the game while UNC-G hit 50 percent of their shots including 6 of 12 from the arc but only 26 of 35 from the foul line. ECU was only 6 of 21 from three point land, but managed to connect on 25 of 28 from the charity stripe for the win. UNC-G outrebounded East Carolina 46-33. The Pirates forced 19 Spartan turnovers while the Pirates only committed 9 of their own.