Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Hampton moves on, ends NSU's season in MEAC Tourney

Two-time defending MEAC Tournament champion Hampton continued its postseason excellence at No. 9 Norfolk State's expense Wednesday, ending the Spartans' best season in years with a 61-40 victory in the conference quarterfinals at the Joel Coliseum in Winston-Salem, N.C.

The loss finished NSU off with a 12-17 record. The 12 victories are the most for NSU since 2004-05, when the Spartans went 12-18. Other breakthroughs for NSU this season included snapping a 40-game conference road losing streak and defeating Bethune-Cookman 51-41 in Monday's MEAC first round for their first postseason win in five years.

Top-seeded Hampton (24-4) made sure the Spartans wouldn't make it two in a row, though, in large part by continuing their recent stretch of remarkable defensive play. Wednesday's game marked the fifth time in Hampton's last eight games they've held an opponent to 40 points or less. The Lady Pirates are allowing just 37.5 points a game over that span, and the most they've given in up any one game is 44.

On the season, Hampton ranks No. 2 in Division I in scoring defense (46.7 ppg), trailing only UConn. The Lady Pirates also lead Division I in 3-point percentage defense; on Wednesday, NSU went 0-for-8 from beyond the arc.

The Lady Pirates will take a nine-game winning streak into Friday's noon semifinal against either No. 4 Coppin State or No 5 North Carolina A&T. Those teams will face off the quarterfinals on Thursday at 2:30 p.m.

All-MEAC point guard Jericka Jenkins scored a game-high 20 points against Norfolk State for the Lady Pirates, who trailed 12-2 before catching fire. Keiara Avant added 13 points and Alyssa Bennett chipped in 12 as Hampton defeated NSU for the 13th straight time.

Senior Tyisha Bridges was the only NSU player in double figures with 12 points as the Spartans produced their lowest point total since a 70-33 loss to Samford on Nov. 28, 2009. NSU's only other senior, Whitney Long, ended her career with 1,130 points, 14th on the school's all-time scoring list.

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