Pirates survive Wave, clinch first round bye

Maurice Kemp scored a game-high 29 points

East Carolina clinched a first round bye in the Conference USA tournament behind Akeem Richmond's three-point shooting and the hostile environment Minges Coliseum provides.

East Carolina played its first game at its home inside Minges Coliseum since an 86-82 overtime loss to the Southern Miss Golden Eagles on Feb. 16. Since then, the Pirates took two of the three games on their road trip behind the red-hot outside shooting of Akeem Richmond.

Richmond did not disappoint against the Tulane Green Wave Wednesday—scoring 21 points on 5-9 shooting from three-point range—draining his biggest shot of the night to put ECU in front 84-82 with 1:58 remaining.

The Pirates (17-11, 8-7 Conference USA) would hold on to win 88-85, despite being outscored by the Green Wave (18-12, 6-9 C-USA) 38-18 in the paint.

With 87 triples on the season, Richmond owns the school record for threes made in a single season, shattering the mark set by Sam Hinnant in 2008-2009.

"It's a big time accomplishment. I'm excited because it lets me know my hard work has paid off," said Richmond.

ECU's eighth conference win ties the most it's ever had since joining Conference USA in 1997 and clinches the Pirates a first round bye in the conference tournament.

Trailing 41-40 at halftime, ECU put together a 16-4 run to start the second half, capped by a Paris Roberts-Campbell trey to make it 56-45 Pirates. Roberts-Campbell would score fifteen points on 5-7 shooting on 3's to along with five assists.

Tulane would get off the mat and erase the deficit when senior Ben Cherry buried a jumper that put the Green Wave in front 72-71 with 7:19 remaining.

Both teams would trade baskets until Richmond stepped up and drilled his go-ahead jumper.

Tulane center and former N.C. State transfer Josh Davis had a chance to knot the game up at the free throw line with his team trailing 84-82 with 19 seconds left, but before a raucous crowd at Minges Coliseum, Davis missed both attempts from the stripe and the Pirates survived.

"We've had so many close games…but our crowd has been great all year," said ECU coach Jeff Lebo. "(Minges Coliseum) is a tough place to play. There's not a better place to play, and I've played in a lot of them. It's an intimidating venue to have to play in."

Davis finished with a team-high 23 points and 16 rebounds, a game high.

Tulane jumped out to a 12-3 lead to start the game. C-USA's leading scorer Maurice Kemp kept the Pirates afloat—scoring the team's first 6 points—and led an 11-2 run to tie the game at 14.

Kemp would finish a rebound short of a double-double with a game-high 29 points to go along with his 9 boards. Miguel Paul scored all 13 of his points in the second half and collected a double-double with 11 assists.

The Green Wave shot 9 for 13 from three point range with four players finishing in double figures.

ECU will host Marshall Saturday at 5 pm to close the regular season and honor its seniors.

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