NORFOLK, VA-David Six has an affinity for Jimmie Johnson. The NASCAR driver won five straight Sprint Cup championships from 2006-10, a string of dominance unprecedented in that sport that once earned Johnson the nickname "Five-Time." Now, Six has led Hampton University to an unprecedented mark of MEAC dominance: five straight conference tournament crowns.
So in a sense, Hampton now has its own "Five-Time." The Lady Pirates delivered that historic milestone Saturday afternoon at Norfolk Scope with a hard-fought, gritty 50-47 win over Coppin State.
Senior forward Alyssa Bennett was named the Tournament's Most Outstanding Player after grabbing a team-high 11 rebounds for her third straight double-digit rebounding effort, and Six was named Most Outstanding Coach.
Senior guard Nicole Hamilton led Hampton with 20 points on an afternoon in which points were at a premium, while redshirt-sophomore forward Brielle Ward added a season-high 10 points to go along with 10 rebounds for her first double-double of the season.
A Hamilton jumper with 1:45 left gave the top-seeded Lady Pirates (28-4) a 50-47 lead – a lead that seemed huge given how much of an offensive struggle the game was. Coppin State turned the ball over on the next possession, then fouled, but Hampton couldn't convert at the free throw line.
That gave the fifth-seeded Lady Eagles (17-14) a chance with 23 seconds left, but Coppin State couldn't convert on its three attempts from behind the arc, and the ball sailed out of bounds as the final horn sounded.
Coppin State appeared to have control early on, leading 20-13 after Kyra Coleman, a First Team All-MEAC selection this season, hit a free throw with 9:25 left in the first half to cap a 10-2 run. Hampton answered by closing out the first half on a 16-3 run, taking a 29-23 lead after a free throw from sophomore guard Ryan Jordan with 1:01 left. The Lady Pirates took that lead into the break, as Coppin State only made one field goal in the final 10:36 of the first half.
Coppin State opened the second half with an 11-5 run, tying the game at 34-34 after a Larrisa Carter jumper with 15:08 left in the contest. Bennett answered with a jumper with 12:34 remaining to give Hampton a 36-34 lead, but the Lady Eagles would not go away.
In fact, the score was tied five times in the second half, including a 39-39 score with 7:23 left after Ashle Craig hit a 3-pointer. Hampton scored the next five points – the closest the Lady Pirates came to a run in the second half – taking a 44-39 lead with 5:55 remaining. During that run, Hamilton hit a 3-pointer with 6:31 left – Hampton's only trey of the contest.
Coppin State cut that lead to 44-43 with four straight free throws, before Ward hit a layup with 3:51 left to give Hampton a 46-43 lead. From that point forward, Coppin State couldn't get any closer than within one, including 48-47 after a Craig layup with 2:08 left.
The Lady Pirates shot just 26.2 percent (17-for-65) from the floor, but Hampton held Coppin State to just 25.7 percent shooting (18-for-70) and turned the Lady Eagles over 18 times – resulting in 12 points. Coppin State, which never led in the second half, held a 55-53 edge in rebounding. The five straight MEAC titles aren't the only history the Lady Pirates made on Saturday.
In picking up their 18th straight win overall, and their 49th straight win over a MEAC team, the Lady Pirates tied their Div. I mark for most wins in a season with 28. Six is also tied for the program Div. I lead for most wins by a coach, joining Patricia Cage-Bibbs at 127. Overall, Hampton has won eight MEAC Tournament titles (2000, 2003-04, 2010-14).