NORFOLK-Under head coach David Six, the Hampton University women’s basketball team has made it to the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Tournament championship game four straight times.
After Saturday afternoon, the Lady Pirates have emerged as champions all four times. The Lady Pirates jumped out early on rival Howard at the Norfolk Scope, before ultimately taking a 59-38 win in the 2013 MEAC Tournament finale. Hampton wins its fourth straight MEAC Tournament crown – the first MEAC squad to do that since Howard from 1987-90 – and its corresponding automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Hampton (28-5), the tournament’s top seed, also picked up its 19th straight win to extend its Div. I program-record winning streak. That streak is also tied for the seventh-longest in the nation this season, with Chattanooga.
Howard’s 38 points are the second-fewest in a women’s championship game in MEAC Tournament history; the lowest total came in 2006, when Delaware State scored just 36 points in falling to Coppin State.
Senior guard Olivia Allen led four Lady Pirates in double figures with 16 points, while junior forward Alyssa Bennett, the MEAC Defensive Player of the Year, poured in 14 points while spending much of the contest guarding Howard’s Saadia Doyle.
Senior forward Keiara Avant, the MEAC Player of the Year, added 12 points and a team-high nine rebounds – en route to being named the MEAC Tournament’s Most Outstanding Performer.
Junior guard Nicole Hamilton chipped in 10 points.
Six, the MEAC Coach of the Year, was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Coach. He is also one win shy of 100 for his career as a college head coach.
After the third-seeded Lady Bison took a 1-0 lead, the Lady Pirates answered with an 11-0 run, taking an 11-1 lead at the 14:40 mark after a Bennett jumper. Kara Smith hit a 3-pointer at the 11:06 mark to cut Hampton’s lead to 15-8, but that was the closest Howard would get for the rest of the game.
Hamilton gave the Lady Pirates a 19-8 lead with 8:57 left in the half on a layup, but Smith brought Howard back to within eight, cutting Hampton’s lead to 21-13 at the 4:56 mark with a layup.
From there, Hampton went on a 14-0 run, taking a 35-13 lead with 47 seconds left in the half on a free throw from Avant. Smith hit a jumper with 25 seconds left in the half, sending the Lady Pirates into the locker room with a 35-15 lead.
Doyle had just one point at the half.
Howard opened the second half on a 14-6 run, cutting the Lady Pirates’ lead to 41-29 with 10:43 left to play after Cheyenne Curley-Payne sank a layup. Hampton scored the next nine points, though, taking a 50-29 lead with 8:25 remaining after a layup from Avant.
From there, the Lady Bison could get no closer than within 18, when Adelle Walton hit a 3-pointer to cut Hampton’s lead to 52-34 with 4:12 left to play.
Hampton’s largest lead of the game came with 47 seconds left, when Hamilton sank a layup to put the Lady Pirates up 59-36.
A day after recording their best shooting percentage of the season, the Lady Pirates shot 46.5 percent (20-for-43) from the floor – including a mind-boggling 64.7 percent (11-for-17) in the first half – while hitting four of their 12 3-pointers and going 15-for-23 from the free throw line.
Hampton also held a 41-35 edge on the glass; the Lady Pirates are 19-0 this season when outrebounding their opponent.
The Lady Pirates also held a 26-12 advantage in the paint. Howard (20-11) shot just 21.4 percent (12-for-56) from the floor, going just 3-for-19 (15.8 percent) from behind the arc and 11-for-18 (61.1 percent) from the free throw line. It was the second-lowest field goal percentage Hampton has allowed this season.
Smith led the Lady Bison with 12 points, 10 of which came in the first half. Doyle, the MEAC’s all-time leading scorer, was held to just nine points – five of which came from the free throw line.