Friday, December 10, 2010

Hampton's no joke, y'all

MEAC teams aren't usually celebrating after an encounter with an opponent from the mighty SEC. But as Hampton continues to get healthy, the Lady Pirates are proving they're not your typical MEAC team.

Hampton 69, Florida 54: This is what Hampton can do when it has all its weapons. Last weekend, point guard Jericka Jenkins (ankle injury) made a triumphant return to the lineup. Friday, her backcourt running mate Bernadette Fortune (foot) saw her first extended minutes of the year. And with its "Mighty Mite" backcourt finally intact, the Gators simply couldn't keep up.  Florida actually started off well, as Jordan Jones splashed her first four 3-pointers to help stake Florida to an 11-point lead late in the first half. But the Lady Pirates answered with six straight points before intermission (4 on consecutive baskets by Fortune) and a 9-0 run after the break and never looked back. Jenkins, who has now played all 40 minutes in each of the three games since her return to the lineup, had 14 points and 12 assists with just 2 turnovers. Fortune, who started the second half, had 7 points and 4 assists in a productive 22 minutes. Add in Quanneisha Perry's 14 points and 11 rebounds, Melanie Warner's 16 points and 10 boards and Choicetta McMillian's 14 points and the result was Hampton's fourth straight win and its most complete effort of the season. We came into the season expecting a lot out of Hampton, but once the injuries hit, we didn't know what to expect. But it seems pretty clear now that if Fortune and Jenkins can remain reasonably healthy, this is one of the best non-BCS conference teams in the country.

Here's an excerpt from Florida's official release on the game:

“Hampton played a lot tougher than we did,” UF head coach Amanda Butler said. “Whenever you get out-rebounded like we did, giving up 18 offensive rebounds, it’s just toughness. At a certain point, our physical toughness lacked and then our mental toughness didn’t sustain us at all. It’s really, really disappointing that we didn’t have more heart tonight.”

Florida (8-3) was out-rebounded for the first time this season, as Hampton (5-4) fought for the 38-30 advantage inside, also out-scoring the Gators 28-16 in the paint.

“Hampton did a great job of getting the ball in the paint,” Butler said. “We didn’t defend dribble penetration at all. That’s personal. That’s pride on the defensive side and it’s disappointing. The two areas that really are a reflection of how tough you are we failed in tonight. I thought we had good preparation and we have great balance when everyone shows up to play, but clearly we were lacking a full team tonight.”

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