Pirates Power Past Norfolk State

GREENVILLE, N.C. --- Senior Maurice Kemp scored a season-high 23 points and Miguel Paul added 19 points, while he dished out eight assists to lead East Carolina past Norfolk State, 74-63, inside Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum Saturday.

The Pirates (8-3) handed out 21 assists on 24 made field goals, while sinking 21-of-26 (80.8 percent) free throw attempts to earn to their sixth straight home win of the season. They've won 11 straight non-conference home games under coach Jeff Lebo dating back to last season.

Pendarvis Williams led Norfolk State (6-9) with 15 points and Rashi Gaston had 12. Williams made three 3-pointers in the final three minutes, but the Spartans were just 4-of-17 behind the arc and missed all seven of their first half attempts.

East Carolina was clinging to a 48-44 lead midway through the second half when Coach Lebo called a timeout. The Pirates responded with a 12-0 run over the next 4:59 to break the game open. Kemp scored six straight points in the paint to push ECU out to its first double-digit lead of the night with 9:32 remaining. A free throw and a 3-pointer by Shamarr Bowden in front of the ECU bench boosted the lead to 14 before Robert Sampson, who finished with 12 points and nine rebounds, capped the run with another basket inside.

Gaston's jumper ended the Spartans' scoreless drought with 6:52 to play.

Williams sank back-to-back 3-pointers to cut the Pirates' lead to eight, 68-60, with 2:19 to play. His attempt at a third-straight 3-pointer was awry and the parade to the foul line began.

Paul sank two free throws with 1:55 to go and ECU's lead never dropped below nine points the rest of the way.

ECU ended the game by making its final 10 free throw attempts in the concluding 4:39 as Paul connected on 6-of-6 shots with Kemp and Paris Roberts-Campbell each making both of their attempts.

The Pirates shot 54.2 percent in the first half and held Norfolk State to 36.7 percent shooting, but led just 38-31 at halftime. The Spartans stayed in the game by crashing the glass and scoring 11 points off eight first half offensive rebounds.

ECU led start to finish, jumping out to an 11-4 lead in the game's first four minutes. Norfolk State got within one point on two occasions, but never overtook the Pirates.

The Pirates will look to remain unbeaten at home this season when they return to the court on Wednesday, Jan. 2, against Campbell. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. inside Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum.