Bridgeport, Conn.-The University of Bridgeport men's basketball team extended its season in dramatic fashion on Saturday evening, as the fourth-seeded Purple Knights upset the top-seeded Daemen College Wildcats in the 2018 East Coast Conference men's basketball Championship tournament semifinals, 79-77. With the win the Purple Knights are 18-12 overall. Daemen is now 24-5 overall and will await word on an at-large bid to this season's NCAA Division II Championship that will begin next week. The Purple Knights will move on to play Molloy College in the ECC Tournament Finals on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. in Hubbell Gymnasium.
Daemen went up 7-2 early on, and kept their distance in the first half, going into the locker room up 39-31. Bridgeport fought back in the second half to take the lead at 67-66 with two minutes left, and the Purple Knights never relinquished that advantage. Key free throw shooting and rebounding allowed the Purple Knights to maintain their lead in the final seconds.
Senior Eric Rankin (Bronx, N.Y.) led Bridgeport with 20 points despite fouling out with 40 seconds left. He was joined in double figures by sophomore Nemanja Zubac (Becka Palanka, Serbia) with 16 points off the bench, sophomore Travis Robinson-Morgan (Elmont, N.Y.) with 10 points. Junior Bakary Camara (Harlem, NY) also joined the double-digit scoring late, and he had a fantastic game, finishing with 12 points and a team-high 12 rebounds.
Daemen and Bridgeport each committed 17 turnovers, but the difference at the end may have been on the boards, as UB topped the Wildcats 44-39 in total rebounds. The Purple Knights also led in second chance points with 15.