ECU closes NIT Season Tip-Off-play with win

ECU (6-1) crushed UNC-Asheville (1-6) 81-70 in its final consolation game of the NIT Season Tip-Off at the University of Rhode Island Tuesday.

The East Carolina men's basketball team survived a late rally from UNC-Asheville to win 81-70 in its NIT Season Tip-Off finale at the University of Rhode Island.

The Pirates obtained their largest lead, 72-52, following a three-point field goal by junior shooting guard Paris Roberts-Campbell at the 4:05 mark of the second half. Asheville responded by scoring the game's next 12 points on its way to an 18-5 run that trimmed the deficit to 77-70 in the final minute.

ECU salted away its sixth win of the year (6-1) on free throws, but the difference in the game was the Pirates' back-court duo of Roberts-Campbell and sophomore point guard Prince Williams.

Roberts-Campbell paced the Pirates on 8-of-12 shooting for a team-best 20 points, which was his third time this season he has reached the 20-point plateau. The 6-3, 185-pounder's career-high going into the year was 17 points. Williams captured a career-high 19 points to go along with seven rebounds and four assists.

Despite facing a larger Bulldogs (1-6) outfit and being without starting forward Marshall Guilmette for the second straight night due to a nagging right knee injury, ECU (6-1) dominated Asheville in the rebounds department 47-33.

Freshman forward Brandan Stith pulled down a game-best eight rebounds and supplied seven points. Meanwhile, fellow freshman Caleb White joined the double-figures scoring club yet again with his 10 points and six boards.

The Pirates have struggled coming out of the gate in most of its road games in the early part of the season, but that was not the case against Asheville. ECU jumped out to a 12-4 advantage fueled on 3's from Roberts-Campbell and Akeem Richmond, who struggled to find his shooting touch from the night before, still mustered 10 points.

The Pirates reeled off a 14-5 run towards the end of the first half that stretched their lead to 40-22. Although, they shot just 29 percent (9-of-31) in the first half, the Bulldogs scored five straight points in the closing seconds – capped by a Jaron Lane's three-pointer at the buzzer. ECU led Asheville 40-27 at halftime. Lane, who went to D.H. Conley High School in Greenville, had 13 points, which only trailed Sam Hughes' game-best 21 points.

The Pirates finished 3-1 in the NIT Season Tip-Off with their lone loss being an 83-74 result against Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The wins were over McNeese State on Monday and Norfolk State last week in Durham.

ECU will return to action Sunday afternoon when it hosts in-state opponent UNC-Wilmington on Sunday. The game will be broadcast on WITN and the Pirate IMG Sports Network.

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