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Rider (19-14) at East Carolina (19-12)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 23, 5 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum (8,000) -- Greenville, North Carolina. Television: None. CIT Record: Rider 1-2, ECU 1-1. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The East Carolina Pirates will host the Rider Broncs in the second round of the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament on Saturday.
The two programs have never met on the hardwood prior to this matchup.
Although Rider (19-14) has qualified for a postseason tournament in four of the past six seasons, it registered its first postseason win since 1957 with its first-round defeat of Hartford on Tuesday, 63-54. The Broncs played well on both ends of the floor in the triumph, shooting 51.2 percent overall, while holding Hartford to a lowly 2-of-17 (.118) from 3-point range. Leading the way was Anthony Myles, who shot 7-of-12 from the floor and 6-of-6 from the foul line for a career-high-tying 23 points. Jonathon Thompson netted 16 points, while Daniel Stewart chipped in with 10 points and eight rebounds.
While Rider's scoring offense hasn't been very impressive this season (64.0 ppg), it has pieced together a stellar season by holding opponents to only 62.9 ppg, and its 3-point field goal percentage defense (.291) ranks amongst the best in the nation. Thompson is a high-efficient guard, putting up 12.9 ppg, 3.1 apg and 1.5 spg with great percentages from the floor (.502) and beyond the arc (.412). Myles (12.4 ppg) isn't quite as effective with his field goal attempts (.381), but he leads the team with 55 3-pointers. Stewart bring stability to the frontcourt with 10.8 ppg and 7.4 rpg.
ECU (19-12) made history with its thrilling 66-65 win over Savannah State in the first round, as it marked its first-ever Division I postseason victory. The Pirates appeared down for the count trailing by 15 with under 14 minutes left in the game, but they gradually chipped away at their deficit, and with just 13 seconds to play, Miguel Paul stepped to the foul line and drilled a pair of free throws to lift his team to the one-point win. Maurice Kemp was the catalyst on both ends of the floor, tallying 21 points, nine boards, six assists, four steals and two blocks. Akeem Richmond poured in 14 points on 4- of-8 from 3-point range. Paul logged 10 points and nine assists, and Robert Sampson had nine points, 14 rebounds, three steals and three blocks.
The Pirates enjoyed a high-octane offense in Conference USA this season, scoring 76.6 ppg, although their potent 3-point attack (8.1 pg) will be tested against the Broncs' tough defense. Kemp leads the way with 18.7 ppg on greater than 50 percent from the field, but he is much more than just a great scorer, adding 7.8 ppg, 2.6 apg, 1.8 spg and 1.0 bpg as well. Paul (13.1 ppg) is an outstanding distributor, handing out just shy of seven assists per contest. Richmond brings 11.4 ppg to the table, and Sampson is a force to be reckoned with in the low post with 8.8 ppg, 9.0 rpg and 1.9 bpg.
Rider's defense will surely cause some problems for the Pirates, but ECU showed in its first round matchup against a strong Savannah State defense that it is up to the challenge, After pulling off an improbable comeback earlier in the week, ECU's confidence will be riding high in this one.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: East Carolina 70, Rider 66
03/23 10:37:31 ET