Pirates Fall in Tight Fight to Tar Heels, 93-87
Dec. 15, 2012
From wire and staff reports
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Five players scored double figures, led by Akeem Richmond's 17 points, as East Carolina nearly knocked off No. 18 North Carolina in the Smith Center Saturday afternoon, before succumbing to a six-point defeat, 93-87.
The Pirates trailed by 18, 71-53, with 7:19 to play before making a furious rally to put the game's outcome in doubt. ECU went on a 15-7 run to pull within 10, 78-68, with 3:24 remaining; scoring of seven of its nine possessions during a three-minute stretch.
Richmond made four 3-pointers in the final 4:23 to unsettle the UNC Bench, each of his first two bringing ECU within 10 points. His third 3-pointer brought the Pirates within six with 40 seconds to play and his fourth gave it more life, trimming its deficit to four, 89-85, with 26.6 seconds remaining, but were unable to overtake the Tar Heels on their home court.
After trailing 42-26 at the break, East Carolina played more aggressively and got into the double-bonus at the foul line by midway through the second half. The Pirates outscored the Tar Heels 61-51 after halftime.
East Carolina (6-2), an instate program making its first trip to Chapel Hill, trailed by four with 16 seconds to go, but it was unable to commit a foul as Leslie McDonald had a slam with 10.5 seconds left that ultimately sealed the UNC victory.
James Michael McAdoo scored 19 points and P.J. Hairston added 18 for the Tar Heels (8-2), who emerged from a weeklong break due to fall exams with their third straight victory. North Carolina shot 55 percent in the first half to build a 16-point lead at the break, but the Pirates - coached by former UNC guard Jeff Lebo - outplayed the Tar Heels through much of the second half and made it a tough run to the finish.
Lebo played for Dean Smith and then-assistant Roy Williams at UNC from 1985-89, and even played in the first game in the Smith Center as a freshman in January 1986.
He had coached against his alma mater once before, losing 85-59 here while at Tennessee Tech during the 1999-2000 season. The Pirates made this one much closer after a slow start with a tenacious performance.
Seniors Maurice Kemp and Miguel Paul scored 15 points each for the Pirates, while Kemp tied his career-high with 14 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the season. Freshman Marshall Guilmette added 10 points in the loss.
After making just 4-of-14 3-pointers in the first half, ECU shot 53 percent behind the arc in the second half sinking 6-of-13. The Pirates have made 28 3-pointers the last two games after making only 34 in the first six contests.
ECU shot a season-high 77.8 percent from the free throw line, making 21-of-27, including 19-of-23 after halftime. UNC finished the game 19-of-24 at the charity stripe.
There was a moment of silence before the game due to Friday's school shooting in Newtown, Conn.