Charlotte Visits for ECU's Senior Night

East Carolina (15-13) hosts Charlotte (14-12) for the final home game of Akeem Richmond, Petar Torlak and undergraduate assistant coach Erin Straughn.

Seniors Akeem Richmond and Petar Torlak don Pirate uniforms for the final time in Minges Coliseum as East Carolina (15-13) hosts Charlotte (14-12). The graduating duo, as well as undergraduate assistant coach Erin Straughn, hopes to continue to lead the Pirates to a strong finish to the season.

Per senior night tradition, Richmond and Torlak will both start the last game on their home court.

"It's bittersweet," said Richmond. "I've been trying not to think about it. I'm more focused on getting this ‘W' versus Charlotte. We really need this win, but right now I'm just trying to block out all that extra stuff and come out and play as hard as I can."

This game comes just a few days after Richmond made ECU history. He went into Saturday's game against Rice with 225 career threes and hit five in the first half to break the record set by Lester Lyons back in the 1990s. It took Lyons 121 games to set the record and only 63 for Richmond to break it.

Looking forward, Richmond is 14 made treys from becoming only the 13th player in NCAA Division I history to make 400 career three pointers.

Torlak has been with the Pirates for four years now. He came over from Belgrade, Serbia to attend and play basketball for ECU. The team was impressed with his play as a member of Serbia's Under-18 2009 FIBA European Championship team.

During his time as a Pirate, he's become a sort of three-point specialist himself. He hasn't started a game this season and only averages 7.4 minutes a night, but a lot of his impact is made from behind the line. Of his 37 field goal attempts this season, 24 have been from three-point range and he's made 11 of them.

Petar Torlak
(Kat Jessick/InsideECUSports.com)
"He's a great kid," said head coach Jeff Lebo. "He's about the right stuff. He's a competitive kid. He could easily have left. He could have gotten frustrated because he wasn't playing as much, but he's come to work every day."

Last year's outing against Charlotte was fronted by the seniors. Maurice Kemp led the team with 16 points and Miguel Paul contributed another dozen en route to a 76-64 loss.

"It's kind of weird," said Richmond about playing the senior role. "I've always been the younger guy looking up to guys like ‘we've got to get this win for Miguel.' When I was at Rhode Island, we had to get the win for the older guys. Now guys are trying to get the win for me and I'm trying to get the win for myself. It's kind of weird. I try not to overthink it. I just go out there and play basketball."

Charlotte is going to present a tough challenge for Richmond, Torlak and company. The 49ers are a very physical team and have a definitive size advantage over the Pirates.

"Well, they're very physical," said Richmond. "We've got to, of course, make shots. We've got to get some shots in. We've got to rebound the basketball, which would be the most important thing. And we've got to be physical."

Matching Charlotte's physicality is a tall task, but the Pirates should be able to keep up in rebounding and scoring. ECU and Charlotte rank first and second in the conference in three-point field goal percentage, respectively. However, since entering conference play, ECU has also led C-USA in three-point field goal defense with 28.5 percent.

Last season, Charlotte won the rebounding battle by a margin of 24. Seeing as ECU's only won that battle against three conference opponents this season, swiping the glass could remain a problem. Prince Williams showed promise last time out, though. Rebounding usually comes down to Michael Zangari and Brandan Stith, but Williams nabbed a career-high eight boards against Rice.

Senior night will be a matchup of teams both similar and different in many aspects of the game. Richmond, Torlak and Straughn's last home game as Pirates can be found nationally on Fox Sports 1. Also, follow the action through Twitter @InsideECUSports and check out the IES forums to discuss the game.


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