North Carolina Central rallied from a 10-point halftime deficit to defeat No. 1 seed Norfolk State, 50-47, for its third straight MEAC championship. The Eagles become the first team to win three straight titles since North Carolina A&T in the 1980s. NCCU will await its seeding on Sunday. Can anybody say "First Four."
Meanwhile, the Spartans season is not over. By virtue of winning the regular season title, NSU earned an automatic bid to the NIT. But we all know that's not what they wanted.
NCCU opened the second half with a 12-0 run that set the tone for the rest of the game. Amazingly, the Eagles didn't score again in the last 4 minutes 4 seconds in the game.
“It is no question that was the key to the game,” NCCU coach LeVelle Moton, the tournament’s outstanding coach, said. “Jordan did a good job of jump-starting us. The team came out with a different mindset to start the half and it dictated the rest of the game.”
Senior Raasean Davis was named the tourney's outstanding performer. Davis scored eight points and grabbed 14 rebounds, while teammate Zacarry Douglas recorded a double-double of 10 points and 12 rebounds.
“Even though we did not shoot the ball well, we felt that we had a chance,” Spartans coach Robert Jones, the MEAC coach of the year, said. “When we were down 47-40 with seven minutes left, we felt that we were in good shape. I told the players that we have been here before. But we had opportunities but just could not convert.”
The Eagles will face North Dakota State in the First Four on March 20, 6:40 p.m., in Dayton, Ohio. The winner will meet No. 1 overall seed Duke on Friday.
What a media story if the Eagles and Blue Devils could meet up. Everybody knows about the relationship between NCCU coach LeVelle Moton and Coach K. Durham would be on fire! But first things first. NCCU is in its third straight NCAA Tournament and fourth in six seasons, but it is 0-3. It’s fine to get to the Big Dance but now it’s time to win.
The SWAC’s Prairie View A&M, which I thought NCCU would be playing in the First Four, instead will take on Farleigh Dickerson Tuesday night in the first four. Maybe the NCAA got some flack after pitting NCCU and Texas Southern against each other last season.
Other postseason news:
• Norfolk State, which NCCU defeated in the MEAC championship. is the No. 8 seed and will play No. 1 Alabama on March 20, 7 p.m. in the NIT on ESPNU.
• Texas Southern and Hampton were invited to the CollegeInsider.com Tournament. The Tigers will travel to New Orleans on March 20, while Hampton will host St. Francis (NY) on March 21 at 7 p.m.
• There are no more HBCU Division II teams left in the postseason. Virginia State men fell to West Liberty 82-80 Sunday in a thriller. The Trojans led for almost the entire game. With .8 seconds left in the game, VSU got a good look at the basket. The ball clanked off the rim and bounced off. Oh yeah, the officiating was horrible!
Virginia Union women were upended by IUP 66-58 in the second round. IUP also defeated Bowie State the day before.
The women’s NCAA Selection Show is Monday night.