NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — Make it five years and five Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament titles for Hampton’s women.
Nicole Hamilton scored 20 points, fellow senior Alyssa Bennett had eight points and 11 rebounds as the Lady Pirates beat Coppin State 50-47 in the MEAC women’s final on Saturday.
It was the Lady Pirates’ league record fifth consecutive tournament championship and 49th consecutive victory in league play dating back to the 2010 season.
“It feels great to be part of something that’s never been done,” Bennett said.
Brielle Ward added 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Lady Pirates (28-4), who won their 18th in a row despite shooting 26.2 percent from the field. Ward’s points came on 5 for 7 shooting, while the rest of the Lady Pirates were 12 for 58.
“Brielle was overdue,” Hampton coach David Six said.
Otherwise, Hamilton’s points came on 6 for 22 shooting. Bennett was 4 for 15. And scoring leader Malia Tate-DeFreitas missed 11 of her 12 shots.
“We didn’t have it today. We really didn’t,” Six, now 15-0 in his career in the tournament, said. “As always, it’s the defense that kind of bails us out. We never did get going offensively.”
Coppin State (17-14) didn’t either, making just 18 of 70 shots (25.7 percent). But the Eagles had three chances on their final possession, but Ashle Craig’s 3-point try missed, Kyra Coleman’s shot from the left side after a long rebound also missed long and a tip-in attempt also was off the mark.
Coleman led the Eagles with 18 points, but missed 18 of 25 shots, and Craig added 12 points, but was just 4 of 17 from the field.
“I just thought we were a little bit short on running our offense,” Eagles coach Derek Brown said after his team lost for the third time to Hampton this season. “We could have been a little more patient.”
The Lady Pirates went ahead to stay at 44-39 on a free throw and 3-pointer by Hamilton, and while the Eagles got four free throws in a row to make it a one-point game with 5 minutes to go, they never caught all the way up, despite feeling that the tight game was to their advantage.
“I felt like the pressure was on them,” Craig said. “They had everything to lose. They just pulled it out.”
Hamilton passed to Bennett for a layin to make it 48-45 with 2:40 to go, and Craig answered with a basket for the Eagles.
Hamilton’s driving basket made it 50-47, and the Eagles came up dry at the finish.
The Lady Pirates scored two points in a span of 8 1/2 minutes of the second half, but regained the lead at 37-36 when Kenia Cole made a free throw with 8:06 to play. Ward’s putback pushed the lead to 39-36, and then Coppin State emerged from its own long scoring funk on Craig’s game-tying 3-pointer.
It was just the second field goal for the Eagles in 7 1/2 minutes.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)