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Men's Basketball Semifinals - Day 4 < All News
Friday, March 09, 2012

BETHUNE-COOKMAN USES BALANCED ATTACK TO DEFEAT HAMPTON

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C., March 9, 2012 -- Adrien Coleman scored 16 points to lead six players in double figures as Bethune-Cookman defeated Hampton, 81-72 in the semifinal round of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Men’s Basketball Tournament at the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

The No. 4 Wildcats (18-16) will play the winner of the semifinal match between No. 2 Norfolk State and No. 11 Florida A&M in the championship game on Saturday. The game will be televised live on ESPN2 at 1 p.m.

The No. 8 defending tournament champion Pirates (12-21) took the early lead, 20-11 in the first 10 minutes. But Bethune-Cookman regrouped and put together a 17-7 run that tied the game at 27.

From there, the Wildcats caught fire as Paul Scotland and Kevin Dukes began to find the range from beyond the arc. Bethune-Cookman seized control and led 39-31 at the break.

“We picked up our defense; that was the key,” explained Bethune-Cookman Interim head coach Gravelle Craig. “We wanted to make them take tough shots. Pellum is a good jump shooter so we wanted to play him tough.”

Added Hampton head coach Ed “Buck” Joyner, “We got off to a good start but they withstood our early push and then they began to make shots. They took control and we began missing opportunities.”

In the second half, the Wildcats displayed poise and confidence as Coleman, Ricky Johnson and Garrius Holloman took turns scoring against the Pirates. It resulted in a 55-38 lead at the 12:11 mark, the largest of the game.

Darrion Pellum, an All-MEAC selection, and Christopher Tolson, who were key members of the Pirates team that played in the NCAAs last year, did all they could to bring the Pirates back, but in the end they were no match for the balanced attack of the Wildcats, who shot 8 of 16 from 3-point range and outrebounded their opponent, 33-22.

“We knew it was going to be a battle,” said Holloman. “We came to this point last year, so as a senior, I want to get past this point and be in a position to go to the NCAAs.” Bethune-Cookman was the top seed last year and got knocked out in the first round.

The proud Pirates were not done despite the sterling play of the Wildcats. They got within six on three occasions, but each time Bethune-Cookman repelled their comeback attempts with a key basket or free throws.

“We wanted to avoid an early out like last year,” said Craig, who was an assistant coach with the team last year. “We wanted to play hard, play smart and maintain our poise.”

Pellum led all scorers with 24, Tolson added 16 and Mike Tuitt chipped in with 11 in a losing cause.

In addition to Coleman, the Wildcats got 15 from Javoris Bryant, 12 from Ricky Johnson, 11 from Kevin Dukes and 10 from Holloman.

DEFENSE, BENCH CARRY SPARTANS INTO MEAC CHAMPIONSHIP

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C., March 9, 2012 -- Kyle O’Quinn tallied 13 points and eight rebounds, and No. 2 seed Norfolk State parlayed a strong defensive effort and good bench play into a 58-46 win over No. 11 seed Florida A&M on Friday night in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Men’s Basketball Tournament semifinal game at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

The win propels the Spartans (24-9) into Saturday’s 1 p.m. championship game against fourth-seeded Bethune-Cookman. The game will be televised live on ESPN2.

NSU held the upstart Rattlers (10-23) to 34-percent shooting and forced FAMU into 19 turnovers.

The Spartans started strong, scoring the game’s first seven points. But FAMU, playing its third game in four days, answered with a 9-0 run to take its first lead of the game, 9-7. That was the first of six lead-changes in a tight first half in which the two teams combined to make just 18 of 50 field goals. A layup by O’Quinn with 30 seconds left in the first half gave NSU a 23-22 lead going into the half.

The Rattlers took their final lead of the game after an Amin Stevens fast-break layup put them ahead 29-28 with 15:39 left. But O’Quinn scored inside and then Rob Johnson scored on back-to-back possessions on a 3-pointer and a mid-range jumper to finish off a 7-0 spurt that put NSU ahead by six. Johnson would later push the lead to eight, 39-31, on a fast-break dunk with 8:31 left in the game.

FAMU closed to within four, 39-35, on another Stevens layup a minute later. But O’Quinn and Quasim Pugh each hit a pair of free throws on NSU’s next two possessions, and the lead didn’t dip below six again.

After struggling from the floor in the first half, the Spartans connected on 42-percent in the second half. They also hit 12-of-18 from the foul line in the final 20 minutes to keep FAMU at bay.

Johnson scored 12 points and grabbed five rebounds off the Spartan bench, and Pugh matched his season high with 10 points while handing out a career-high four assists. NSU got 28 points from its bench.

Stevens led all players with 20 points and 11 rebounds for the Rattlers. He was the only FAMU player who scored more than five points.

The Spartans will be making their second-ever MEAC Tournament championship appearance on Saturday, and first since losing to Morgan State in the 2009 final. NSU and Bethune-Cookman are both seeking their first-ever NCAA Division I Tournament berth.

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