DALLAS - Akeem Richmond scored 23 of a career high 29 points in the second half on the strength of an ECU record nine three-pointers to lead ECU past SMU 72-69 in Moody Coliseum Saturday afternoon.
The Pirates only hit one of their first thirteen shots in the contest and just 27 percent in the first half including 3 for 14 from the arc. When the Pirates weren't turning it over outright, the basket seemed to have a lid on it as SMU took an eleven point - 32-21 lead into the locker room.
SMU(13-14/3-9) connected on 51 percent of their shots, many of which were uncontested right down the lane in the first stanza while the Pirates turned it over 12 times in the first twenty minutes of play. ECU cleaned that up in the second half with just four turnovers.
Jalen Jones went 6-9 in the first half for ten points while Akeem Richmond finally got a couple of passes in rhythm from Prince Williams as the Microwave led ECU with two baskets at intermission - good for six points.
But when the Pirates came out of the locker room, Prince Williams started at point guard for Miguel Paul and East Carolina(16-10/7-6) got nine treys in the end from Akeem Richmond who heated up in the second half to erase the ECU deficit.
Paul's first basket of the game gave ECU the lead, 63-62, with just 1:24 remaining in the game. Paris Roberts-Campbell applied the exclamation point with his eleventh point. Richmond hit two free throws with 31.3 remaining to give the Pirates a six point lead.
Nick Russell lofted in a made jumper that was ruled a two pointer with 22.8 to go for SMU and his wide open dunk with 13.6 left kept things close, but half of that was negated by two Paul free throws.
Robert Sampson threw the ball away on an inbounds pass to Paul in the last ten seconds of the game for ECU and Russell capitalized with a long range bomb that drew rain to keep SMU within four with 11 seconds remaining.
Kemp was fouled and hit two free throws to extend the Pirates' lead to three and Cunningham's missed trey attempt kept the game out of overtime and ensured ECU's second straight winning season, 72-69.
Miguel Paul and Ty Armstrong added eleven points apiece for ECU and Robert Sampson was a beast again on the glass with 7 points and eleven rebounds. The league's leading scorer, Maurice Kemp was held to just eight points on 3 of 7 shooting but did get eight rebounds, a steal and two blocked shots in the victory.
Jalen Jones and Ryan Manuel led the Mustangs in scoring with 18 points, Jones had eleven rebounds while Nick Russell scored 16.
The Pirates shot right at 40 percent and knocked down 17 of 18 from the charity stripe. SMU connected on just better than 45 percent of their 64 shot attempts and only connected on one of nine from the arc.