Vilmont Leads way with 18
Co-captains Ellis Cooper and Eric Jean-Guillaume pose with the NCAA East Regional trophy after Tuesday night's win over Bridgeport.
MANCHESTER, N.H. (March 19, 2013) – Junior forward Ellis Cooper (Northampton, Mass.) hit two free throws with 1.1 seconds on the clock and walked away from the foul line miming putting on a championship belt on Tuesday night, as he gave the top-seeded Franklin Pierce University men's basketball team an insurmountable, 57-52 lead. That would ultimately turn out to be the final score in a win over seventh-seeded Bridgeport in the title game of the NCAA Championship East Regional at SNHU Fieldhouse on the campus of Southern New Hampshire. Sophomore forward Ryen Vilmont (Philadelphia, Pa.) tied for the game's scoring lead with 18 points, 15 of which came in the second half.
With the win, Franklin Pierce improves to 24-8 and advances to the Elite Eight at Freedom Hall in Louisville, Ky. The Ravens will meet the champion of the South Central at noon on Thursday, March 28. The final game of the South Central Regional tipped at 9 p.m. (EST) on Tuesday between top-seeded Metro State and second-seeded St. Mary's (Texas). With the loss, Bridgeport concludes its season at 23-10.
Cooper came away with the East Regional Most Outstanding Player honors when all was said and done. He was joined on the Regional's All-Championship team by Vilmont and senior guard Eric Jean-Guillaume (Stamford, Conn.).
At the conclusion of the tournament, (left-to-right) Ellis Cooper, Ryen Vilmont and Eric Jean-Guillaume were all named to the East Regional's All-Championship Team. Cooper earned East Regional Most Outstanding Player laurels.
Vilmont's 18 points came on 5-for-7 from the floor and 3-for-5 from three-point range, including 3-for-3 in the second half. He led three Ravens in double digits, as junior guard Andre Blackwood (Peterson, N.J.) -- who had been ejected from Sunday's regional semifinal -- added 13 points on 5-for-6 shooting and Cooper contributed 11. Vilmont hit three straight three-point shots between the 14:15 and 11:36 marks in the second half, as Franklin Pierce closed a 30-24 gap down to 36-33. The Ravens took the lead for good 2:59 later (38-36) on a jumper by junior forward Adrianos Vourliotakis Perdikaris (Cholargos, Athens).
Bridgeport closed the gap to two twice in the final minute, first with 23 seconds to play. Vilmont drained two free with 20 seconds to play and later, Cooper -- with 10 seconds to play and the Franklin Pierce lead only two points again -- hit one of two. This made it a three-point game, and after Bridgeport came up empty on the ensuing possession, Cooper went to the line again to ice the contest with 1.1 showing on the clock.
"He's [Cooper] not a great percentage free-throw shooter," said Head Coach David Chadbourne in a postgame interview with Pack Network's Jacob Van Ryn. "But when it matters, he's a great free-throw shooter."
Senior guard Darian David matched Vilmont and led Bridgeport with 18 points on 7-for-14 from the floor and 3-for-5 from the free-throw line. He was joined in double digits by senior forward Dion Waiters, who scored 10 points on 4-for-11 from the floor.
For more information on Franklin Pierce Athletics, please visit the official website of Franklin Pierce Athletics (http://athletics.franklinpierce.edu). Also be sure to follow the Ravens through the Department of Athletics' official Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/FranklinPierceRavens), its YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/franklinpiercesports) and its Twitter feed (http://twitter.com/FPUathletics). Fans wishing to purchase Franklin Pierce men's basketball apparel can do so at the Department of Athletics' brand new online store (http://athletics.franklinpierce.edu/store).