NORFOLK, Va. (AP/WAVY Sports) — Reginald Johnson scored 20 points and Hampton used a 13-3 second-half run to help beat Delaware State 82-61 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference championship on Saturday.
Brian Darden added 20 points and Deron Powers 16 for the sixth-seeded Pirates (16-17), whose semifinal victory on Friday night had only ended about 14 1/2 hours before the championship got underway.
The Pirates will be making their first appearance in the NCAA tournament since 2011.
Amere May scored 20 to lead the sixth-seeded Hornets (18-17). Delaware State, seeking its first NCAA tournament appearance since 2005, eliminated top-seeded and unbeaten North Carolina Central on Friday. But it had no answer when the Pirates got 3-pointers from Darden, Powers and Ke’Ron Brown in the go-ahead burst.
Hampton led 52-43 when it ended. The Hornets got within 61-56 with 4:38 to play, but were outscored 21-5 the rest of the way.
Delaware State, which swept the season series against Hampton, used starting point guard Kendall Williams sparingly because of an ankle injury. The Hornets led 40-39 early in the second half before Hampton put together the 13-3 burst to open a 52-43 lead, their largest to that point.
May, who scored 27 points in the semifinals, had given the Hornets the one-point lead, and scored their next 10 points, but the Pirates countered each basket as Powers scored twice, Darden hit his fourth 3-pointer and Jervon Pressley scored inside to make it 61-51.
May’s last points made it 61-56 with 4:38 left, but the Pirates pulled away.
The Hornets hit three early 3-pointers and took a 15-6 lead after the first 8 minutes, but Hampton went ahead 21-19 thanks to a 15-4 run in which Johnson scored 11 points in a row for the Pirates. The team then traded baskets for the last 5 minutes of the half and headed for the locker rooms tied at 32.
Hampton: Quinton Chievous had a season-high 23 points and 16 rebounds in the semifinals, but just five points and four rebounds in 24 minutes of the championship.
Delaware State: The Hornets’ Kendall Gray was the league player of the year and defensive player of the year. He leads the nation in rebounding with an average of 12.0, but managed only six points, six rebounds and four blocks in the title game.
Hampton: Awaits its NCAA tournament opponent and destination.
Delaware State: The Hornets hope for a postseason invitation.