East Carolina holds off NC Central, 84-76
Paul scores career-high 25 points in victory over Eagles
Free throws are often the difference in close games and they were just that on Thursday evening in Greenville.
East Carolina knocked down 32 of its 39 attempts from the charity stripe en route to capturing its fourth straight win with a 84-76 victory over visiting NC Central.
The Pirates (8-4) built an 18-11 advantage with 13:30 remaining after an Austin Steed lay-up, but the Eagles gave ECU all it wanted in a half that features eight ties and eight lead changes.
NCCU (7-7) used six points by Dominique Sutton to spark a 10-2 run to take a 21-20 lead just over three minutes later. It increased its margin to a game-high four at 26-22 via an Ebuka Anyaorah lay-up with 8:24 to play.
However, five consecutive points by Paris Roberts-Campbell fueled a 12-3 run that propelled the Pirates to a 34-29 lead with just under six minutes to go in the opening half.
After carrying a 39-35 lead into the locker room despite shooting nearly 20 percent less than NCCU, ECU quickly extended its lead after the break.
A three-pointer by Nick Chasten on the Eagles' first possession of the second half did cut their deficit to one, but the Pirates got hot from behind the arc to push the lead to 57-42. Then, after Maurice Kemp sank the first of two free throws the NC Central bench was whistled for a technical foul. Roberts-Campbell knocked down the free throws and Kemp hit the second of his two to cap a 22-4 run to give ECU its biggest lead of the game at 61-42 with over 13 minutes left.
The Eagles would not go down easily, as they got within five after Ebuka Anyaorah hit a three with just over five minutes to play.
However, Shamarr Bowden hit a huge three with a little over two minutes remaining and the Pirates proceeded to convert eight of ten free throws in the final minute to hang on.
Miguel Paul scored 15 of his career-high 25 points at the free throw line. Shamarr Bowden connected on five of his nine three-point attempts to total 15 points. Kemp registered a second straight double-double after posting 14 points and 14 boards. Morrow and Roberts-Campbell also reached double figures with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Ebuka Anyaorah knocked down five trifectas and had 25 points to pace NCCU. Chasten and Sutton had 13 each.
NCCU lost despite making six more field goals than ECU. The Eagles were 48.2 percent (27-of-56) from the floor compared to the Pirates' 40.4 (21-of-52). However, Jeff Lebo's club knocked down 18 more free throws in the game.
East Carolina will conclude its non-conference schedule on Saturday when it faces NAIA foe UVA-Wise at 1 p.m.