Friday, March 2, 2012

Hampton, Norfolk State finish strong in MEAC finales

Hampton 86, North Carolina Central 35: Predictable result when the MEAC's best team (23-4, 15-1 MEAC) meets one of the weakest in Division I (3-26, 1-15). The Lady Pirates aren't going to score 86 points many nights. But Thursday's lockdown defensive performance was fairly consistent with the kind of effort Hampton has turned in all season. This was the second straight game and fifth time in the Lady Pirates' last 10 games they've held an opponent to 39 points or less. At the other end of the floor, seniors Choicetta McMillian and Jericka Jenkins each scored 18 points as Hampton notched its eighth straight victory. In addition, McMillian became the 23rd Lady Pirate to crack the 1,000-point barrier for her career. The Lady Pirates will now try to make it three titles in a row at the MEAC Tournament, which begins Monday at the Joel Coliseum in Winston-Salem, N.C. Hampton has clinched the No. 1 seed and will begin its title defense in a noon Wednesday quarterfinal against either the No. 8 or No. 9 seed. The MEAC hasn't announced the pairings yet, but our reading of the standings indicates the No. 9 seed will be Norfolk State and the No. 8 seed will be Bethune-Cookman.

Norfolk State 54, North Carolina A&T 51: Whitney Long's jumper with 1:06 to play gave the Spartans a one-point lead, Marian Brooks' free throws with 6.7 seconds left made it a three-point game and strong NSU defense held the Aggies without a shot before the buzzer as the Spartans snapped a 10-game losing streak to A&T. Long finished with 18 points, 12 in the second half, Tyisha Brooks added 10 points and Rachel Gordon pulled down 16 rebounds for NSU (11-16, 6-10 MEAC). The Spartans enter the MEAC Tournament as the No. 9 seed - this from a team picked to finish 13th (last) in the preseason - and will face No. 8 Bethune-Cookman (10-18, 7-9) in first-round action. The winner gets No. 1 Hampton in Wednesday's quarterfinals. The Spartans fell 83-73 at Bethune-Cookman on Feb. 25 in the teams' lone regular-season meeting.

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