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Pirates edge UCF in OT

By Al Myatt
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HARTFORD, CT East Carolina survived and advanced in the first game of the 2015 American Athletic Conference tournament with an 81-80 overtime win over Central Florida at the XL Center on Thursday afternoon.

The Pirates (14-18) used a balanced scoring attack that included 19 points from freshman B.J. Tyson, a career high 18 from Marshall Guilmette, 13 each from Michel Nzege and Caleb White and 11 from Paris Roberts-Campbell.

Regulation play ended with the score knotted at 76. Kasey Wilson of UCF tied it up on a follow shot with four seconds left. Roberts-Campbell got a good look at a three at the buzzer but it rimmed out.

Guilmette's three from the left put the Pirates ahead to stay at 79-78 with 4:28 left in the extra period. A bucket by White gave ECU an 81-78 lead with 3:31 remaining.

Wilson made two free throws with 3:05 left to complete the scoring.

Wilson missed a shot from the left elbow with Antonio Robinson defending as time was running out that would have given the Knights (12-18) the victory.

UCF got 22 points from B.J. Taylor in its third loss of the season to the Pirates. Adonys Henriquez added 17 points.

ECU trailed 7-2 at the outset but spurted to a 30-13 advantage with 5:59 left in the first half. The Pirates were on top 38-30 at the break.

Freshman Lance Tejada gave ECU a big lift with seven assists and five steals in the first half as coach Jeff Lebo brought Robinson to the bench with a pair of fouls.

Nzege and Guilmette grabbed seven and six rebounds respectively to keep the Pirates competitive on the boards.

"Well, it was a heck of a basketball game to open the tournament," Lebo said. "Good offensive game, a lot of points and we had a great start to the game, up 17.

"Give Central Florida a lot of credit, they really battled hard and battled back. I give my team a lot of credit in the overtime. When a team comes back like that and ties the game, a lot of times in those overtimes they mentally have an advantage and physically have an advantage. We showed some toughness coming down the stretch and made some key plays.

"It's exciting to be able to play another day. It's our first American tournament victory and I know our guys are excited to get a chance to play again tomorrow against a terrific team."

ECU, seeded eighth in the 11-team event, meets top-seeded Southern Methodist (24-6), which had a first-round bye, at noon today (ESPN2). The Mustangs defeated the Pirates 77-54 in Dallas on Jan. 17.

The Pirates improved to 4-1 in conference tournament openers under Lebo.

PAGE UPDATED 03/13/15 03:07 AM.

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