Rivals Norfolk State, Hampton meet with first place at stake

HAMPTON ROADS (WAVY) — Ed Joyner shrugged and simply said, “Hey, it’s the ‘Battle of the Bay.” And that’s all the head coach had to say when asked about this weekend’s men’s basketball matchup between his Hampton University team and Norfolk State.

The first of two meetings  this season already has a postseason feel to it. The Spartans (10-12, 6-1 Mideast Athletic Conference) and Pirates (11-8, 7-1 MEAC) will meet at 6:00 pm, with the winner taking over first place in the conference. Records aside, both teams have looked like conference title contenders so far.

The Pirates feature the two-headed monster of Quinton Chievous and Reginald Johnson, who are both tied as the second-leading scores in the MEAC (17.2 points per game). NSU’s head man recognizes the threat Chievous possesses, both on the inside and from the three-point line. “I think he’s one of the better players in the league,” said Robert Jones.

The Spartans, who’s 72.3 points per game is just below their rivals as the fourth-best in the conference, have done a bulk of their damage from the beyond the arc. In fact, they feature the top 3-point shooting offense in the MEAC, having drained 172 shots from the bonusphere and connected on 38.3 percent from that range.

As far as coach Joyner is concerned, none of the aforementioned numbers really matter. “You can throw the records out the window,” said the Pirates head coach. They certainly didn’t matter the last time these rivals met.

Norfolk State swept the season series last regular season before falling to Hampton 75-64 in the MEAC Tournament. The Pirates, which entered that matchup with a 14-17 overall record, eventually won the tournament and made the NCAA Tournament.

Whether or not NSU will have revenge on its mind is unclear (though it’s a good bet), but one thing is clear; they’re certainly road-tested. Norfolk State has played 11 of its 22 games away from home, and have managed a couple big wins here and there. “I would love to go and show them up,” said Spartans’ senior guard D’Shon Taylor.

Surely, the feeling is mutual on the Peninsula.

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