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Pirates rally behind red-hot Richmond

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Junior guard Akeem Richmond came off the bench to fire in a school-record nine threes and score 29 points to fuel East Carolina's come-from-behind 72-69 Conference USA victory over Southern Methodist Saturday afternoon in Dallas.

The Pirates (16-10, 7-6 C-USA) trailed by as much as 17 in the first half and faced an 11-point deficit almost four minutes into the final frame when Richmond nailed the first of seven second half treys. That basket ignited a 20-8 run that pushed the Pirates into their first lead with 10:12 remaining.

Fittingly enough, it was a three by Richmond that gave ECU that 46-45 advantage and another laser-guided missile from the Rhode Island transfer 35 seconds later that boosted the margin to 49-45.

As the clock wound down, there were five lead changes and three ties as the teams jostled for advantage until senior point guard Miguel Paul connected on a three with 1:25 left to give the Pirates the lead for good at 63-62.

Richmond, who played 29 minutes, recorded 6 points on a pair of threes in the first half before exploding for 23 points after intermission to help ECU assure itself of a winning season.

Richmond finished 9-of-14 from behind the arc and 2-of-2 from the charity stripe.

Paul and sophomore guard Paris Roberts-Campbell joined Richmond in double figures with 11 points apiece, while junior forward Robert Sampson grabbed 11 rebounds. Senior forward and all-conference candidate Maurice Kemp, who came into the contest with a league-leading 18-point scoring average, was limited to 7 points.

SMU's offensive attack was spearheaded by its three-guard trio of Jalen Jones and Ryan Manuel with 18 points apiece and Nick Russell with 16.

The Mustangs (13-14, 3-9) led at the half 32-21.

East Carolina has won three of its last four games, including two in a row on the road, as the conference race heads into its final two weeks. In its last outing, ECU prevailed 72-63 at Tulsa Wednesday night.

The Pirates have a bye until finishing their three-game road swing with a challenging matchup against Southern Miss next Saturday. ECU will be out to avenge an 86-82 overtime loss at home to USM on Feb. 16.

The Golden Eagles (21-7, 10-3) hold second place in the conference after dropping an 89-73 decision to league-leading and 19th-ranked Memphis (24-3, 13-0) Saturday afternoon.

CONFERENCE USA GAME SUMMARY
East Carolina 72, Southern Methodist 69
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Date: Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013
Facility: Moody Coliseum
Attendance: 3,642
Records: ECU 16-10, 7-6; SMU 13-14, 3-9

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SCORE BY PERIODS 1 2 FINAL
East Carolina 21 51 72
Southern Methodist 32 37 69

PAGE UPDATED 02/23/13 09:13 PM.

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