NORFOLK, Va., – No. 3 Hampton survived and advanced to the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Basketball Tournament championship final after holding off No. 2 Bethune-Cookman, 61-60, inside the Norfolk Scope Arena on Friday.
Despite only shooting 37-percent (19-of-52) from the floor, the Lady Pirates generated offense through turnovers and easy points at the charity stripe. Hampton scored 26 points off 20 Wildcat turnovers while recording 81 percent (21-of-26) from the foul line.
Mikayla Sayle led the way for Hampton, finishing with 15 points and nine boards. Ashley Bates added 11 points and six rebounds while Monnazjea Finney-Smith netted 10 points in the win.
Bethune-Cookman’s Chasimmie Brown made a pair of free throws and sliced the halftime deficit down to single digits, 36-27, but the layup from Bates pushed the margin back to 11 with more than seven minutes left in the third, 38-27.
After Hampton’s K’lynn Willis split two free throws, 39-27, Bethune-Cookman cut the deficit to seven, 43-36, but another late run by the Lady Pirates ballooned the lead to double-digits after three, 48-37.
Moments into the fourth, Hampton’s DeJane’ James made a layup and gave the Lady Pirates its largest lead with 8:41 remaining, 52-37.
From that time, Bethune-Cookman came back and trimmed the deficit down to one, 57-56, after going on a 19-5 run with 2:12 left.
With time dwindling, Finney-Smith made two clutch free throws and extended the Lady Pirates’ advantage to four, 61-57, and sealed the deal for Hampton.
MEAC Player of the Year Angel Golden led all scorers with 16 points, including 14 after intermission. Brown chipped in 13 points while Kanesha Battle registered 10 points off the bench.
Both squads were deadlocked at four until the Lady Pirates went on a 14-3 run and pushed the lead to double digits, 18-7. Golden made a fast break layup and cut the deficit to nine after one, 18-9.
Bethune-Cookman cut the margin to seven, 18-11, but Hampton controlled the second with nine points off turnovers. The Lady Pirates held a 12-point halftime advantage, 34-22.
Hampton (18-13) returns to the MEAC Finals for the second consecutive season and seventh out of nine years under Coach David Six.
Hampton meets No. 1 North Carolina A&T State for the tournament title and bid into the NCAA Tournament. Saturday’s showdown will be televised live on ESPN3 and rebroadcast on ESPNU.