Ogden, UT (Sports Network) - Akeem Richmond knocked down a 3-pointer at the buzzer as the East Carolina Pirates escaped with a 77-74 win over the Weber State Wildcats in the title game of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament at the Dee Events Center.
Richmond, who had made just 4-of-23 from beyond the arc in the three games leading up to this contest, finished with just six points for the Pirates (23-12) as they not only won at least 20 games for the first time since becoming a Division I program, they also registered the first postseason title in team history.
Miguel Paul led four players in double figures with a game-high 23 points for the Pirates, adding six assists, but at the same time turning the ball over seven times. Maurice Kemp posted 20 points, Robert Sampson 12 and eight boards, followed by Ty Armstrong with 10 points in the victory.
The Wildcats (30-7) were paced by Scott Bamforth with 19 points, hitting on 4- of-8 shots beyond the arc, while Davion Berry accounted for 16 points, seven rebounds and a team-best six assists. Also scoring 16 points was Frank Otis, adding a team-high eight rebounds, while Kyle Tresnak tacked on 10 points and seven boards of his own.
ECU, which trailed by seven early on in the first half, closed out the period on a 14-4 run in order to take a 42-35 edge at the break. Bamforth made three straight 3-pointers for the Wildcats early on and finished with 13 points in the frame to keep WSU within striking distance.
The Wildcats opened the second half on an 11-2 run in order to regain the lead. The hosts fell behind again shortly thereafter, but once more sprang ahead late with the help of a 10-0 run. Refusing to give up easily, ECU battled back once more before Tresnak gave the hosts some breathing room thanks to a couple of dunks in the final minutes.
However, even though Tresnak gave his squad a spark in the paint, it was his lack of accuracy at the free-throw line in the final minutes (0-of-4) that allowed the Pirates to stick around. Berry had a chance to give WSU a one- point lead with only 17.3 seconds remaining, but he missed the second of two chances at the charity stripe, leaving the teams knotted at 74-74 and Richmond preparing to set up for the game-winner.
In a game that featured seven ties and 10 lead changes, the Pirates didn't record their first offensive rebound of the night until there was less than three minutes remaining. The visitors finished with only two offensive boards overall.
The meeting was the first ever between the two schools on the hardwood and it also marked the second time in as many years that a program from the state of Utah suffered a three-point defeat in the title game of this tournament after Utah State bowed to Mercer, 70-67, in 2012.
Weber State, which finished with a single-season record for wins and became the first Big Sky Conference program to register 30 victories in a campaign, had been 17-1 at home this season heading into the contest.