Monday, January 24, 2011

Norfolk State gets that elusive 1st MEAC win

Monday's games

Norfolk State 73, South Carolina State 65: Finally! Norfolk State's releases hails the Spartans for snapping a 24-game MEAC losing streak; we called it a 26-game streak as we added in first-round losses in the last two MEAC tournaments. But hey, 24 games, 26 games, who cares? They're both over. It didn't seem as though this would be the night early, for after a first half in which only Whitney Long (13 points) was feelin' it, the Spartans trailed by eight. But over the final 20 minutes, NSU was smoking. After not scoring at all in the first half, Tyisha Bridges (13 points) and Rae Corbo (12) went off in the second. And Long continued filling it up and finished with 24. The Spartans (8-8, 1-5 MEAC) finished with 48 second-half points, or five more than they managed in an entire game exactly one week ago in a 65-43 loss at Howard. That game left us wondering what was up with an NSU team that had showed so much promise in November and December. But since then, the Spartans have spanked N.C. Central and now have their first MEAC victory since their 75-52 thrashing of South Carolina State on Feb. 21, 2009. No need to break out the confetti, as we expect - and they should, too - to starting ringing the bell in the MEAC much more often now. But it had to start with one, and after nearly two years of conference futility, the Spartans finally have that one.

Hampton 59, Florida A&M 47: Only seven Lady Pirates played; good thing four of them scored in double figures. Surprisingly, offensive sparkplug Nicole Hamilton wasn't one of them. The freshman who came in averaging a MEAC-best 19.0 ppg in conference-only games finally had an off night, finishing with just 3 points on 1-of-9 shooting. This time another freshman led the way: Chikilra Goodman produced 15 points - one shy of her career high - 6 rebounds and 3 assists in what at least statistically was her best performance of the season. The Lady Pirates (13-6, 6-1 MEAC) led by just one at halftime, but gradually pulled away from a frigid Lady Rattlers team that hit just 4 of its 27 second-half field goals.

Radford 60, Charleston Southern 56: Don't look now - OK, go ahead - but the same Highlanders who began the year seemingly in freefall with a 3-10 record now find themselves off to the program's best start since the 1997-98 season and alone in first place in the Big South. The disruptive Highlanders defense was at it again, as Radford had 10 steals and scored nearly half its points (29) off Charleston Southern turnovers. Da'Naria Erwin Spencer led the offense with 18 points, Victoria Hamilton added a career-high 14 points and Ashley Buckhannon contributed 12 points for the Highlanders (9-11, 6-1 Big South).

Longwood 76, UNC Asheville 66: The Lancers found a solution to their struggles in close games - don't make it close. Longwood (4-13) had dropped four straight games by four points or less and were flirting with a fifth heartbreaking defeat down three with just over 8 minutes remaining. But Krystal Garrison scored 7 of her season-high 25 points during an 11-0 second half run that wiped out a 3-point UNC Asheville lead and leave the Lancers in command for good. Emilee Dunton added 13 points, Mina Jovanovic chipped in 12 and Brittany Jones 10 for Longwood. And it wasn't just a four-game losing streak that Longwood ended. Heading into the game, the Lancers were 0-7 on the road.

Liberty 58, Coastal Carolina 54: The Lady Flames began the game with a 33-game winning streak against Coastal, and thanks to Avery Warley, it's now at 34. Over the final 85 seconds, the redshirt junior forward blocked a shot, grabbed two rebounds went 4-for-4 from the free throw line to help Liberty survive. Warley's late heroics capped the latest in a string of sensational efforts for the Courtney Hurt of the Big South, as she finished with 14 points and 13 rebounds for her fifth straight double-double and seventh in her last eight games. Jelena Antic (11 points), Devon Brown (11) and Tomu Omotola (10) also finished in double figures for the Lady Flames (11-8, 5-1 Big South), who won for the seventh time in their last eight games.

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