Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Hampton in MEAC driver's seat

Things scarely could have gone better for Hampton's NCAA Tournament prospects Wednesday. First the second-seeded Lady Pirates made quick and easy work out of No. 7 Maryland-Eastern Shore. They then sat back and watched their biggest obstacle to the title eliminated when No. 8 South Carolina State stunned top-seeded and defending champion North Carolina A&T 61-60. That's right, the same South Carolina State that a few weeks ago needed a Whitney Wiley layup with five-tenths of a second left to get past Norfolk State. Wiley was at it again Wednesday - her 3-pointer with 1.9 seconds to go was the difference against the Lady Aggies.

With the loss, A&T secured the automatic WNIT bid that would have gone to Hampton had the Lady Aggies won this tournament. But the Lady Pirates now have a clearer path to the much bigger prize. And Hampton could not have picked a more favorable schedule. They were finished with their rout of UMES by noon Wednesday and won't take the court for the semifinals until Friday at 2:30 p.m. Their opponent, meanwhile, will be playing for the second time in as many days as the quarterfinal pitting No. 6 Bethune-Cookman against No. 3 Morgan State - is scheduled for Thursday at noon.

Of course, nothing is guaranteed and the Lady Pirates will still have to take care of business on the court. But with the bracket and the schedule tilted strongly in their favor, Hampton clearly has a great opportunity to invite themselves to the NCAA Tournament.

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