Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Norfolk State opens MEAC tourney in style

Norfolk State's Ebony Brown
Where has this been?

That was the main takeaway from Norfolk State's 72-55 thrashing of Florida A&M Tuesday in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament opener at the Norfolk Scope.

After stumbling to a 6-21 record over the regular season, the Spartans produced their best effort of the season at win-or-go-home time. For the season the Spartans' average shooting percentage was 35.5. They shot 57.1 percent against FAMU (66 percent from 3-point range). After averaging about 12 assists per game during the regular season, they doled out 20 dimes in their MEAC opener. They also won the rebounding battle, defending without fouling (10 fouls all game) and racked up their second-highest point total in a non-overtime contest.

Led by post players Rachel Gordon, Batavia Owens and Quineshia Leonard, the Spartans exploited their size advantage and continually burned the Rattlers with nifty high-low action. Trice racked up 12 assists.

And then there was exciting sophomore Ebony Brown, who was simply the best player on the floor at both ends of the court. On offense she made the Rattlers pay for trying to protect against NSU's inside attack by splashing five of her rainbow 3-pointers en route to a game-high 23 points.

And on defense, she shadowed Florida A&M star Jasmine Grice, the MEAC's leading scorer (22 ppg) and a player who had dropped 42 points on NSU the previous week. Grice managed just 13 Tuesday, on 5 of 14 shooting.

Grice would later reveal she was slowed by a back injury sustained in FAMU's regular-season finale against Morgan State. She did appear to be tentative, particularly in a first half in which she attempted just three shots. Still, on this day it was clear the Spartans were not about to get lit up by this young lady again. Brown - and occasionally Trice or Jazamine Gray - pursued Grice relentlessly throughout the contest, and help materialized instantly on the rare occasions the FAMU star broke free.

The question now is, was this performance a one-time thing, or can the Spartans sustain this level in Wednesday's noon quarterfinal against North Carolina A&T? Top form figures to be required against second-seeded A&T, which spanked NSU by 15 points six days ago in the regular-season finale.

A big key will be the health of Brown, who took a hard fall late in the second half after being fouled and spent the game's final seconds sitting on the bench with her head in her hands. Brown spent her postgame getting the once-over from medical personnel.

1 comment:

  1. Great article! Thank you for your continued support of the women's game. Spartan fans appreciate your commitment.