College Basketball: ECU wins CIT title
OGDEN, Utah — Akeem Richmond hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to lift East Carolina over Weber State 77-74 Tuesday night and claim the CollegeInsider.com tournament championship, capping the best season in school history.
The Pirates trailed 71-65 with 2:50 remaining but closed on a 12-3 run.
Weber State (30-7) had a chance to pad its late lead but had trouble at the line, making 9-of-19 free throws overall.
Miguel Paul led East Carolina with 23 points and Maurice Kemp added 20 for the Pirates (23-12), who tied a school record for wins in a season set by the 1953-54 squad.
The loss was Weber State’s first at home since Dec. 15
The Wildcats, with former star Damian Lillard in the arena, seemingly took charge after going up 71-65..
But Weber State missed six free throws in the final three minutes, including one by Berry that would have given the Wildcats a 75-74 lead with 17.3 seconds left.
Instead it was tied, setting the stage for Richmond, who scored off a pass from Paul, sending the entire East Carolina team rushing onto the floor afterward.
Richmond scored six points on 2-of-6 shooting, but that’s all East Carolina needed.
Weber State opened the second half on an 11-2 run to grab a 46-44 lead.
ECU countered with a 6-2 run, capped by Prince Williams’ fast-break layup.
East Carolina led 61-54 with 8:16 left after seven straight points by Paul. But Weber State followed with an 8-0 run, Bamforth hitting a jumper, Berry a 3 and Bamforth his fourth 3-pointer to give the Wildcats a 62-61 lead with 6:30 remaining.
After East Carolina fell behind again late, Kemp started the comeback with a 3-pointer, Paul hit two free throws and Robert Sampson scored on back-to-back plays for a 74-73 Pirates lead.
The Pirates had never won a Division I postseason game prior to this season. They sweated out a 66-65 win in the first round against Savannah State before cruising to double-digit victories over Rider (75-54), Loyola-Maryland (70-58) and Evansville (81-58).
The Wildcats, meanwhile, are probably best known for the player they had last year — NBA rookie of the year candidate, could only watch in disbelief as Richmond drained the buzzer-beater.
Overall, East Carolina hit 6 of 16 3s but shot 59 percent from the field. The Pirates also hit 11 of 14 free throws, ultimately the difference in the game.