HAMPTON, VA-Fourth verse, same as the first. With an 83-54 win over Norfolk State Saturday evening at the HU Convocation Center, the Hampton University women's basketball team clinched its fourth straight MEAC regular-season title – and the corresponding No. 1 seed in the MEAC Tournament (March 10-15, Norfolk Scope).
Fitting, since the Lady Pirates (24-4, 15-0 MEAC) lowered the banners celebrating last season's championship as well. Freshman guard Malia Tate-DeFreitas led the festivities with 19 points, while senior forward Alyssa Bennett scored 17 points and grabbed a team-high 12 rebounds for her 12th double-double of the season. Senior guard Nicole Hamilton added 18 points – including four 3-pointers in the second half – and junior guard Kenia Cole poured in 16 points.
Hampton jumped out to its 14th straight win in short order, opening the game with a 13-0 run that ended in a jumper from Tate-DeFreitas at the 16:07 mark. Norfolk State answered with a 7-2 run to cut the lead to 15-7, before the Lady Pirates scored the next 14 points. A Hamilton layup at the 10:12 mark ended that run and gave the Lady Pirates a 29-7 lead.
Norfolk State cut the lead to 29-14 at the 8:16 mark, when Dominique Harper ended a 7-0 Spartans run with a free throw. But that was as close as the Spartans would get in the remainder of the half, and Hampton used a 9-2 run to take a 38-16 lead with 5:41 left in the half after a Tate-DeFreitas trey.
Cole's layup with 39 seconds left in the half sent the Lady Pirates into the break with a 44-23 lead.
NSU only managed six first-half field goals. The offensive struggles continued for Norfolk State in the second half, despite seven field goals in the first eight minutes. Koryn Lawrence hit a layup with 12:18 left to cut Hampton's lead to 56-40, but that was the last field goal for Norfolk State but Ebony Brown hit a layup with 1:41 remaining.
All 10 Norfolk State points in the interim came at the free throw line. A free throw from Logan Powell at the 9:47 mark cut Hampton's lead to 58-45, but a 10-1 Lady Pirates run grew the lead to 68-46 with 6:54 remaining after a free throw from Bennett. That run included back-to-back-to-back 3-pointers from Hamilton.