|North Carolina A&T Wins Men's Title||< All News|
|Saturday, March 16, 2013|
Lamont Middleton scored all 13 of his points in the second half, Austin Witter came up with a big blocked shots and Adrian Powell converted two big free throws to help North Carolina A&T defeat Morgan State, 57-54 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournament championship at the Scope. The Aggies (19-16) receive the conference’s automatic qualification to the NCAA tournament and will await the announcement of the pairings on Sunday.
The game was a tightly contested throughout with both teams getting mini runs. It went back and forth. The Bears once led by seven and the Aggies by five before they settled for a 28-28 deadlock at the half.
Powell, who was named the tournament outstanding performer, led the Aggies with 10 while Witter contributed eight. Morgan State (17-15) got 12 points from DeWayne Jackson, a All-MEAC first team selection, and seven off the bench from Anthony Hubbard.
It was more of the same in the second half as they continued to grind it out. Then Middleton began to make a difference, scoring several key baskets for the Aggies to keep the Bears at bay. It was his short jumper that gave North Carolina A&T a 53-47 lead at the 5:23 mark.
“Once we stopped giving up second chance points, Middleton went to work,” said NC A&T Coach Cy Alexander. “He came over to me and said that he could be effective if we let him post his man up.”
Jackson answered with two free-throws and after a two-minute scoreless stretch by both teams, Hubbard scored on a tip-in for Morgan State to make it, 53-51 at the 3:57 mark.
Then came what could have been one of the biggest plays of the game. Following a missed North Carolina A&T shot at one end, the Bears had a chance to tie the game, but Witter, the MEAC Defensive Player of the Year, came over and made a block on a shot attempt by Hubbard. The Aggies took advantage at the other end, getting a basket from Bruce Beckford to make it a four-point turnaround and a 55-51 lead with 1:44 remaining.
“Austin Witter blocked a big shot at the end of the game,” said Alexander. “His timing on blocking shots is incredible. He just seems to know the right time to jump. And then the guy who I have all the confidence in the world got fouled, stepped to the line and knocked them down.”
The Bears made it interesting when Blake Bozeman nailed a long 3-pointer with 1:31 on the clock. But the Aggies got the two free throws from Powell and got the stops they needed down the stretch to close out with the championship, its first since 1995.
“It is tough losing this one,” said Morgan State head coach Todd Bozeman. “You can’t win a game shooting as bad as we did from the free throw line (Morgan State missed 8-of-14 in the second half). I am really happy for Cy (Alexander) and his team. For him to get another head coaching job in the league and to win a championship is great.”
Jackson closed out his career at Morgan leading all scorers with 20 points while Hubbard contributed 10 in a losing cause.
“I wanted to get this championship for DeWayne Jackson,” said Bozeman, who has led Morgan State to four of the last five tournament finals.
Powell led the Aggies with 14, Middleton with 13 and Witter with 11 points, 9 rebounds and 5 blocked shots.
The all-tournament was Adrien Coleman of Bethune Cookman, Adrian Powell of North Carolina A&T, DeWayne Jackson of Morgan State, Lamont Middleton of North Carolina A&T and Kevin Dukes of Bethune Cookman. Powell was named the tournament Outstanding Performer and Cy Alexander the outstanding tournament coach.