GREENVILLE, N.C. --- For the first time in nearly two generations, East Carolina's men's basketball program has produced 20 victories in a single-season.
After winning its first Division I postseason game in school history earlier this week, the Pirates (20-12) made it two in a row with a 75-54 victory over Rider (19-15) in the second round of the CollegeInsiders.com Postseason Tournament (CIT) to give ECU its first 20-win season since 1953-54.
Maurice Kemp had 20 points and a career-high 15 rebounds, while Ty Armstrong also contributed 20 points to lead ECU into the quarterfinals. The Pirates will host the winner of the Kent State-Loyola (Md.) game on Tuesday night at 7 p.m.
"I am really proud of how well we played today with so much energy and enthusiasm," ECU Head Coach Jeff Lebo said. "Maurice Kemp was terrific all night and Ty Armstrong really stepped forward when we needed him to tonight."
The Pirates, who led wire-to-wire, built a 14-point first half lead only to see the Broncs close with a 13-5 run to pull within six at halftime, 35-29.
The Broncs run continued through the first three minutes of the second half as they cut their deficit to one, 37-36. Armstrong then scored the next five points and ECU regained control of the game.
Anthony Myles drilled a 3 to get Rider back within four, 45-41, but it was as close it got. The Pirates outscored the Broncs 24-3 over a 9:14 stretch to assure itself of playing another game.
The run came with senior point guard Miguel Paul on the bench with four fouls. Freshman Prince Williams came off the bench to score eight points, grab seven rebounds and hand out three assists in the game's final 13 minutes.
"Prince really led us to victory," Lebo said. "He came in a tough situation and played very well."
Williams converted a 3-point play to push the lead to nine and Kemp followed with a thunderous fast break dunk over Shawn Valentine, brining the already lively crowd into a frenzy.
"Our crowd was unbelievable tonight and I thought it was huge factor in the second half," Lebo stated.
Akeem Richmond made a 3-pointer to push the lead to 20 and Kemp converted a 3-point play to make it 69-44.
On a night when their outside shooting was off, the Pirates dominated inside and outscored the Broncs in the paint by 26 points. ECU shot just 21.1 percent from behind the arc (4-19).
The Pirates held Rider to just 27.1 percent shooting. Jonathon Mills led the Broncs with 18 points, going a perfect 10-for-10 at the free throw line. Myles added 10 points. After shooting just 36.4 percent in the first half, the Pirates responded by shooting 48 percent in the second half and scored 13 points off eight offensive rebounds.
The ECU men have advanced to the final eight of the CIT after beating Rider 75-54 Saturday night.
The Pirates were led by Maurice Kemp and Ty Armstrong who both had 20 points. Kemp added 15 rebounds.
East Carolina will again host on Tuesday night. Their opponent is yet to be determined.