Durham, NC (SportsNetwork.com) - Paris Roberts-Cambpell scored a game-high 22 points as the East Carolina Pirates rallied back from a double-digit deficit in the second half to defeat the Norfolk State Spartans, 76-74, in the opening round of the NIT Season Tip-Off at Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Akeem Richmond added 17 points for ECU (4-0), which trailed by 17 points with just over nine minutes in regulation before using a late surge to stay perfect on the season. Michael Zangari scored 16 points in 22 minutes of action while Brandan Stith grabbed a game-high 12 boards for the Pirates, who will advance to play Duke in the next stage of the tournament on Tuesday.
Pendarvis Williams led the Spartans (2-2) with 18 points while Malcolm Hawkins scored 16 points and pulled down eight boards. Norfolk State used 11 different players in the contest and 10 contributed in the scoring column. Jamel Fuentes tallied nine points, six assists and five boards before fouling out after 28 minutes of action. Brandon Goode also fouled out after just 16 minutes.
The Pirates took control in the early stages of the bout and used an 8-0 run to take a 27-14 lead with just under nine minutes left in the first half. Norfolk State responded with an 18-5 run to tie the score at 32 at the 1:32 mark of the opening period. Roberts-Campbell made a layup and Zangari sank a free-throw attempt to put ECU back ahead by three before Hawkins hit a jumper as time expired to send the Spartans into the break trailing, 35-34. Norfolk State's reserves outscored the Pirates' bench, 15-4, in the opening 20 minutes to help it overcome the early deficit.
Williams drained a 3-pointer on the opening play of the second half to put the Spartans ahead and they ran off to a double-digit lead while ECU was held to just 12 points through the first 11 minutes following the break. The Pirates used a 20-4 run to pull within a single point before Roberts-Campbell connected on a shot from beyond the arc to put them ahead, 70-68, with 2:38 showing on the clock. Norfolk State managed to tie the score twice, but the Pirates answered both times. Trailing by two points with only five seconds remaining, Williams missed a jumper in the closing seconds on the Spartans' final possession.
Despite the loss, Norfolk State outscored ECU, 50-16, in the paint. The Spartans will play UNC-Asheville on Tuesday.