Pirates' Season Ends in CIT

GREENVILLE, N.C. – ECU (17-17) lost in the first round of the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament 73-59 against Wright State (21-14) Tuesday at Minges Coliseum.

Wright State never trailed East Carolina in the school's first-round matchup in the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament on its way to a 73-59 victory at Minges Coliseum Tuesday.

Although, the Raiders (21-14) shot 61 percent from the field, they only led 61-57 inside of the game's final five minutes following a 9-0 ECU (17-17) run.

And with the home crowd re-energized, Wright State nearly had the ball stolen before senior AJ Pacher drilled his lone 3-pointer of the night to begin Wright State's game-sealing 9-0 run.

"It was huge," said Wright State coach Billy Donlon of the play. "Good players beat X's and O's any day of the week. We had a broken play there late and AJ stepped up and hit a senior shot."

Pacher finished with 20 points, which matched Pirates' point guard Prince Williams' total, on 8-of-9 shooting to lead the Raiders, but the difference Tuesday was Wright State's ability to defend.

ECU senior shooting guard Akeem Richmond was limited to just eight shots – 2-for-8 for six points – and was held scoreless in the second half to close his decorated playing career. Despite his struggles, Richmond still moved into sole possession of seventh place for career 3-pointers in NCAA history (416).

"Right now I'm just numb," Richmond said after the game," but I can't complain because … I had a pretty good career. I want to thank God for allowing me to be in a great position. I want to thank Coach (Jeff) Lebo for giving me the opportunity. I also want to thank … all the fans and everyone who supported us this year. I really appreciate that."

Guarding an elite 3-point specialist was nothing new for Wright State, though. The Raiders had already faced the NCAA's all-time leader in 3's made, Oakland's Travis Bader, on three separate occasions in the Horizon League this season – winning all three games.

"The credit goes to Matt Vest and Miles Dixon. We do one or two unique things, but I thought at the end of the day, those two guys have had to do it three times to another elite shooter," said Donlon.

Richmond added, "They were just glued to me. When I was coming off the screens, they would just switch it and guys were face-guarding me the entire time."

ECU's second and third leading scorers, Paris Roberts-Campbell and Caleb White, were quiet in ECU's season finale; combining for just 11 points on 4-for-18 shooting. As a team, the Pirates shot just 17 percent (4-for-23) from three-point range.

However, Wright State's obvious focus on Richmond did open up driving lanes for Williams and forward Michael Zangari, who scored 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting.

"Since they were so hugged up (on Richmond), they gave me a lot of room to operate and get to the rim. I just wanted to take advantage of that and try to make some plays at the rim," said Williams.

The Raiders jumped out to an early 7-0 lead and never looked back against the Pirates. ECU got close several times, trimming the deficit to 1, 3 and 4 at the end of the game, but Wright State always had an answer and never surrendered the lead.

Outside of Pacher, three other players scored into double figures for the Raiders, whose opponent has yet to be determined in the second round of the CIT Tournament.

As for ECU, the Pirates will now prepare for the American Athletic Conference, which they will join later this summer in all sports. The AAC produced four teams into this year's NCAA Tournament and nearly had five with the snub of Larry Brown's Southern Methodist Mustangs.

"We got a lot of change happening with our program and there are a lot of moving parts. So we're going to have to grow and being able to recruit in this new league is going to take some time," said Lebo. "There is quite a commitment in this league to be good at basketball. We're very proud to be in Conference USA, but really excited about the future and what it might hold."


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