NORFOLK, Va., March 11, 2017–Bethune-Cookman’s efforts to erase a 19-point deficit fell just short Saturday afternoon as No. 3 seed Hampton won the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Tournament championship game 52-49 at the Norfolk Scope Arena.
Hampton, winning its sixth MEAC Tournament title in eight years, will learn of its NCAA Tournament fate Monday evening when the seeds are announced.
“Whew,” David Six, the tournament’s Most Outstanding Coach, said. “What else can you say? I think we had a bit of an emotional letdown (after an injury to Kaylah Lupoe) and that we lost our poise a little… but then Jephany (Brown) hit two big buckets to kind of break the ice a littie.
“Our defense was spectacular all game, and that was the difference.”
Taylor Houston had 10 points, Ashanti Hunt and Kendra Cooper eight each, and Kailyn Williams posted rebounds as the Lady Wildcats (21-10) had a 12-game winning streak snapped in their first championship game appearance since 1992.
Hampton (20-12) led 27-8 on Georgianna Gilbeaux’s 3-pointer with 7:55 remaining in the second quarter before Bethune-Cookman began its comeback effort.
Houston’s layup with 6:45 remaining in the fourth quarter tied the game at 44-44, but Hampton scored the next four points — thanks to Jephany Brown — and never trailed again. Cooper cut the lead to 51-49 with a jumper with 10 seconds remaining, but Gilbeaux answered with a free throw on the other end.
The top-seeded Lady Wildcats had the final shot, but Kanesha Battle’s 3-pointer was off.
Trailing 35-23 at halftime, Bethune-Cookman scored the first 11 points of the third quarter to close to 35-34 on Houston’s jumper with 5:48 left and 37-36 on another Houston basket two minutes later. Hampton pulled away to a seven-point advantage, 44-37, with 8:53 to play.
Jephany Brown and Mikalya Sayle led Hampton with 10 points each.
2017 MEAC All-Tournament Team
Jephany Brown — Hampton
Monnazjea Finney-Smith — Hampton
Kendra Cooper — Bethune-Cookman
Kailyn Williams — Bethune-Cookman
Aaliyah Kilpatrick — North Carolina A&T State
Most Outstanding Player: Jephany Brown, Hampton
Most Outstanding Coach: David Six, Hampton