Saturday, January 7, 2012

Hampton dominates Howard in one-sided MEAC showdown

Hampton 63, Howard 40: No, you can't just declare the MEAC season over and mail the championship trophy to Hampton right now. But we couldn't help thinking that might not be a bad idea after seeing how the Lady Pirates smothered the Lady Bison. Howard came into the game on a 9-game winning streak and loomed as a serious challenger to Hampton's MEAC supremacy. Then they tipped off. And by late in the first half, the only lingering question was whether or not Howard could score 10 points before the break. They couldn't; Hampton seized leads of 10-0 and 24-3 before cruising into the half up 26-8.With the competitive drama essentially over, our focus shifted to the continued emergence of Hampton's Alyssa Bennett, who established a new career high in scoring for the second straight game with 23 points and added 11 rebounds. MEAC schools don't typically get talents like Bennett, who was the No. 32 player in ESPN's Top 100 in 2009. CAA schools, either, for that matter. The No. 32 player in the Class of 2012 has signed with Notre Dame. The No. 32 player in the Class of 2011 is at Texas. Bennett took a two-year, convoluted route to becoming a Lady Pirate, and has needed time to round into form. If her level of play Saturday becomes her norm - and her raw ability suggests that's certainly possible - these Lady Pirates become even better than advertised.

Back to Saturday's game - Jericka Jenkins added 14 points and 11 assists and Melanie Warner chipped in 11 points and 8 assists as Hampton (11-3, 3-0 MEAC) won its 15th straight game at home. Saadia Doyle scored 20 points to lead Howard (9-6, 2-1), which shot just 25 percent from the field and lost for the first time since Nov. 30. The Lady Bison will get another crack at Hampton on Jan. 23 in Washington.

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