Miguel Paul scored 10 points, including a pair of key free throws with just 13 seconds remaining to give the East Carolina Pirates a 66-65 victory over the Savannah State Tigers in the first round of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament at Minges Coliseum.
Paul, who shot just 2-of-8 from the floor overall, converted all four of his free-throw attempts and handed out nine assists. Maurice Kemp led the Pirates (19-12) with 20 points, to go along with nine rebounds, six assists and four steals, while Akeem Richmond added 14 points off the bench and Robert Sampson pulled down a game-high 14 rebounds.
For the Tigers (19-15), Deven Williams finished with 18 points, Arnold Louis chipped in with 15 and Jyles Smith grabbed 11 rebounds in a reserve role.
Savannah State opened the game with a 14-3 run and took a 32-25 lead into halftime, despite shooting just 38.2 percent from the field. The Tigers held ECU to only 29.2 percent shooting through the first 20 minutes of action, including 2-of-7 from beyond the 3-point arc. It also didn't help that the Pirates converted just half of their 18 free throws in the period.
The Tigers connected on 56 percent from the field in the second half, although they missed all but one of their six 3-point attempts. The Pirates shot 50 percent from the field in the period, including 6-of-13 from beyond the 3- point arc.
The Tigers led by as many as 15 points six minutes into the second half, but the Pirates steadily whittled down that advantage, finally taking the lead with 47 seconds remaining on a 3-pointer by Paul. Savannah State responded with layup by Rashad Hassan with 25 seconds left, but Paul was fouled on the ensuing possession, setting up his game-winning free-throws as the Pirates held on for the comeback victory.
The Pirates, who advance to the second round of the tourney against an opponent to be determined, outscored the Tigers 20-6 at the free-throw line in order to help overcome 16 turnovers.