GAME NOTES: First-round action of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament heads to Greenville, where the East Carolina Pirates will host the Wright State Raiders in an elimination battle at Minges Coliseum.
The winner will advance to the second round of the tournament, which takes place from March 21-22.
Wright State, as the three seed in the Horizon League Tournament, made it to the conference finals before being ousted by HL champion Milwaukee, 69-63. The Raiders are making their first-ever appearance in the CIT.
East Carolina is no stranger to this postseason, as the Pirates won four straight games at home in the CIT last year, then traveled to Ogden, Utah, where ECU defeated Weber State to win the tournament crown. East Carolina was bumped from the Conference USA Tournament this season by UTEP, 77-68.
This meeting will serve as the first-ever matchup between the Raiders and Pirates on the hardwood.
Wright State was seeded higher in the Horizon League Tournament than Milwaukee, and was able to upset Cleveland State in the semifinal round to get to the finals against the Panthers. But Milwaukee was simply the hottest team in the conference postseason, and rolled to the victory and the Horizon League's automatic NCAA Tournament bid. A.J. Pacher had a solid game for the Raiders against Milwaukee, netting 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the floor. The only trouble was that scoring was scarce everywhere else. Matt Vest chipped in 11 points, and the Raiders hit just 5-of-17 shooting from 3-point range in the loss. Wright State shot 46.8 percent from the floor in the game.
Pacher tops the team in scoring this season with an 11 ppg average on 59.8 percent shooting, adding a team-best 5 rpg to his stat line. He's the only Wright State player to net a double-digit scoring average on a team scoring just 67.4 ppg. The Raiders use a string defense to hold down their opponents, allowing just 62.3 ppg.
East Carolina fell behind quickly against UTEP in the Conference USA Tournament, as the Miners scored the first five points of the game. ECU came back to tie the score at 5-5, but UTEP went ahead from there for the remainder of the contest, eventually leading by 16 points at the intermission and by as many as 23 in the second half. Akeem Richmond, Paris Campbell and Prince Williams all netted 14 points to lead the Pirates in the game, while Caleb White added 13 points. ECU shot just 33.3 percent from the floor in the first frame, which hurt especially bad thanks to 50 percent shooting from UTEP in the period.
In an up-and-down season for the Pirates, Richmond has been a steady force in the scoring department. Richmond tops the team with an 18.4 ppg average, adding a whopping 153 3-pointers to his season resume. White (12.7 ppg) and Campbell (12.1 ppg) round out the double-digit scorers for the Pirates on the year. East Carolina nets 73.3 ppg, and gives up 70.8 ppg to opponents. At a 6.5 rpg clip, Brandon Stith tops the squad in the category, while Williams has dished out a season-high 120 assists.
The Pirates went through some real lulls during the season, especially in conference play. Wright State, despite the loss in the Horizon League championship, finished the season strong, going 6-1 in its last seven games. East Carolina has the home advantage and the most recent CIT title in its corner, but Wright State's tough scoring defense and rebounding ability will be enough in the first round.
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