NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – It was a frustrating-and surprising-finish for both Norfolk State and Hampton University in last year’s MEAC tournament.
Norfolk State, who brushed through the regular season conference schedule without a loss in 2013, were ousted in the quarterfinals by Bethune-Cookman 70-68. Hampton, the number three seed after going 11-5 in the MEAC over the regular season, lost a 63-60 game to Delaware State in their first game of the tournament.
“The guys that played last year, they only played one game in the MEAC tournament. It was like one game, and we were done,” said NSU senior forward Malcolm Hawkins.
The saying is, the first win is always the hardest, and the Spartans can put that first tournament win of 2014 behind them. Though, it probably didn’t end the way they hoped it would.
NSU lead the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore by 17 at the half, nearly gave it up, and had to hang on for a 78-74 win. “I mean, maybe we used up too much energy at the beginning; maybe too pumped up,” said Spartans Head Coach Robert Jones, “Any win, whether it’s a half a point, four points, six points, 30 points, we’ll take it at this point.”
NSU moves on to play Savannah State on Thursday at 8:00 pm. As for Hampton, their head coach believes it’s not so much about motivation from last year, as much as it is simply doing better.
“I think the guys are coming in–not feeling like, let’s get to the first night and see where it goes, they’re anxious to get into the tournament and show everybody that they’re different,” said Pirates Head Coach Ed Joyner.
They’ll face Coppin State in a quarterfinal matchup on Wednesday night at 8:00 pm.