With Craig Sedmak taking care of the offense and Brian Gilgeous shutting down East Carolina with his defense, American took control after intermission and rolled to a 92-83 victory last night before 1,058 at Bender Arena.

Sedmak scored 18 second-half points but it was Gilgeous's stifling defense on Steve Richardson that saved the Eagles (6-5) from their fourth home-court loss in six games.

Richardson made all six of his three-point shots in the first half, mainly burning Gilgeous. But Richardson (22 points) got only three three-point shots in the second half, two when the outcome was decided.

"We wanted to make Richardson's first move a dribble, as opposed to letting him aim, cock and shoot," said Eagles Coach Chris Knoche. "We did a better job on their perimeter players in the second half."

Trailing by 43-37 at intermission, American went on a 21-8 run to start the second half, keyed by Sedmak's 12 points.

With Richardson held in check, the Pirates (7-5) had little else to offer on offense. Leading scorer Lester Lyons (14 points) was ineffective until late, and while the inside game of Stanley Love, Ike Copeland and Tim Brown combined for 35 points, most came on offensive rebounds.

"We knew they would guard {Richardson} closer in the second half," East Carolina Coach Mike Steele said. "When you guard him, he has trouble getting open."

Sedmak and Gilgeous repeatedly got easy baskets on offensive rebounds in the second half, while point guard Brock Wortman (17 points) had little trouble getting the ball inside. He finished with seven assists and one turnover.

"It's nice when we can get both the defensive and offensive game together," Gilgeous said. "Last year I felt my defensive game was hurt because of my offensive game. But somebody just had to come out and do something" on Richardson.

The Pirates fell behind 13-2 to start the game until Richardson entered. Richardson made three three-pointers in three minutes, tying the score at 18.

But Erick Grace (nine points) performed well inside while center Sean Stevens sat on the bench in foul trouble. Richardson came back to score 11 more points to keep the Pirates ahead.