Richmond lifts Pirates past Broncos

GREENVILLE, N.C. – ECU (7-2) cruised past Fayetteville State (4-4) 96-78 Tuesday night at Minges Coliseum behind Akeem Richmond's career-high 37 points.

Two nights removed from dropping a heartbreaker to UNC-Wilmington, East Carolina was back on the floor at Minges Coliseum and returned to the win column as well against Division II Fayetteville State.

Akeem Richmond's career-best 37 points – the most scored by a Pirate since 1988 – paced ECU (7-2) to a 96-78 win Tuesday night. Richmond supplied a school-record 10 three-pointers, on his way to 11-of-18 shooting, and converted on all five of his free throw attempts.

"I've been sick since the UNC-W game. I couldn't really sleep after that game," said Richmond. "I was really disappointed in myself. I feel like as a senior, I admit as a man that I really needed to step up. So that's what I tried to come out and do tonight and I feel like I did that."

Outside of the 6-foot senior sharpshooter, the Pirates struggled mightily from the foul line, missing a season-worst 15 free throws (31-of-46). Junior shooting guard Paris Roberts-Campbell mustered just one field goal (1-of-7) for 11 points.

Thus, the Broncos (4-4) hung around behind the potent duo of Torian Showers and Tyrrel Tate, who combined for 35 points, until the game's final moments.

The larger concern for ECU coach Jeff Lebo is putting a team out on the floor that can manufacture scoring despite lacking an inside presence. Sophomore forward Marshall Guilmette's could be sidelined for the remainder of the season due to a right knee injury, consequently leaving the Pirates with just two true post-players moving forward.

"We looked like a high school team in warm-ups. We got no size now," said Lebo of his smaller lineup. "We got to find a way to invent ourselves to play and try to hide as much as we can some problems that are going to occur along the way.

"We could not afford to have an injury at that spot and we got one. And it's early in the season. So it's going to be a hard haul here when we start to play the bigger boys."

Freshman Brandan Stith is one of those two remaining post-players and he turned in his sixth double-figure rebounding performance – collecting 17 boards to go along with six points and four blocks.

And although FSU was a Division II club, Tuesday's game was far from a rout. The Broncos hit their first four shots out of the gate to gain an early advantage 12-6. It was not until Stith buried a lay-up at the 13:27 mark that ECU took its first lead, 18-16, in the midst of a 10-0 run. The Pirates took a 45-35 lead into halftime.

Even though Richmond had a team-best 11 points at the break, his torrent scoring pace really began at the start of the second half. He scored the Pirates' next 12 points on a perfect 4-of-4 shooting, three of which were from beyond the arc, to stretch the lead to 57-45.

The Broncos were still able to hang in thanks in part to getting secondary scoring from guards Timothy Haggie and Travis Marcus. With just over 10 minutes left, Haggie strung together six straight FSU points and trimmed ECU's lead to single digits at 68-60 on a lay-up.

Junior-college transfer Antonio Robinson answered with his own lay-in to push back the lead en route to his nine-point, nine-rebound outing. Soon after, Robinson was involved in a scuffle that resulted in a few players on both teams being pulled away and separated from each other.

"I'm from Winston-Salem and Winston-Salem State is in the CIAA, so I knew. I grew up watching them and I knew coming in that they were going to be a physical team," said Robinson.

Roberts-Campbell drilled his only field goal, a three-pointer, with 7:54 remaining in the game. ECU would not let up from there. In fact, freshman Caleb White's two made-free throws in the final seconds gave the Pirates their largest lead, which turned out to be the final. White closed with 14 points of 4-of-8 shooting.

Prince Williams was the last of ECU's four double-figure scorers with 12 points in just 20 minutes of playing time. Showers had a team-best 18 points and seven rebounds for FSU. Tate finished with 17 points.

ECU will return to action Sunday to host close by Mount Olive. Tip-off time is set for 2 p.m. at Minges Coliseum.

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