Howard University鈥檚 men鈥檚 basketball team defeated Delaware State University 70-67, clinching the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) tournament championship. (Courtesy photo)
Howard University鈥檚 men鈥檚 basketball team defeated Delaware State University 70-67, clinching the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) tournament championship. (Courtesy photo)

The Howard University (HU) men and the Norfolk State University聽(NSU) women captured their second straight Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament championships on March 16 at the Norfolk Scope Arena in Norfolk, Virginia. As a result, they earned the conference automatic bid to the Big Dance, the NCAA Division 1 tournament.

Howard Men Beat Delaware State

The Howard men defeated Delaware State University, 70-67 in the championship game, culminating a challenging season for .  

The team endured numerous injuries that forced  13 different starting lineups.

Yet somehow, the shorthanded Bison were able to prevail, having to play three games in less than 72 hours.

The victory was spurred by the play of All-MEAC performers , and .  

But there was a pleasant surprise from graduate guard Jordan Hairston, a native of Fairfax, Virginia, who was thrust into extended services over the last third of the season due to injuries.  He responded with an outstanding tournament that culminated in him being named MVP.  The graduate led the way with 18 points while also limiting Delaware State’s talented freshman to only eight points after he averaged 21 coming into the game.

Hairston got support from Towns and Harris with 16 and Dockery with 15.

“This is a very special moment for Howard University and the men’s basketball program to win back-to-back championships,” said Blakeney, a DeMatha High School graduate in his sixth season at the helm.  “We went through a lot this season and to make this accomplishment is something I will never forget. I am so happy for these young men.”

Harris and Dockery, both from 老澳门开奖网, D.C., were members of last year’s championship team but for Hairston and Towns, it had special significance.

Towns is in his eighth year of basketball on the collegiate level.  During his stops, first at Harvard and then at Ohio State, he has had knee surgeries and back problems that have prevented him from being on the court.

“This is overwhelming for me,” said Towns, who has an undergraduate degree from Harvard and plans to pursue a Ph.D. in history.

“In all my years at this level, it is the first time that I have won a championship,鈥 added Towns. 鈥淭his is a big part of the reason I came to Howard and for it to happen, is very humbling.”

praised his team鈥檚 effort and noted the experience of Howard, which he said was key in the outcome of the contest.

鈥淎 huge factor was the experience of Howard,鈥 Waterman said of the Howard team which has eight seniors or graduates on the roster. 鈥淭hey have been here before. My hats off to Coach Blakeney and his team and we wish them well in the NCAA playoffs.鈥

Norfolk State’s Women’s Basketball Team Defeats Howard University

The Norfolk State women have been one of the top women’s basketball teams in HBCUs.聽 The Spartans (27-5) came into the tournament with a 27-4 record, boasting a 13-game win streak.

Norfolk State University鈥檚 women鈥檚 basketball team defeated Howard University, keeping the title of Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference champions. (Courtesy photo)
Norfolk State University鈥檚 women鈥檚 basketball team defeated Howard University, keeping the title of Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference champions. (Courtesy photo)

The defending champions had easily dominated in the quarterfinals and semifinals before facing Howard University, which is the only team to defeat them this season.

There was a lot of familiarity between the two, as they met for the fourth straight title game.  The Spartans held on to defeat the Bison in last year’s championship.  Howard won it two years ago.

The tone was set early as the two defensive-mended teams exchanged blows.  

Through three quarters of play, neither team could get a comfortable advantage as the lead featured five lead changes and four ties.

Then came the fourth quarter and the Spartans threatened to pull away on the play of their all-conference performers, and , who combined for 19 of their team’s 23 points in the final stanza.

But the Bison were not going away.  Their all-conference backcourt of of Accokeek, Maryland and of Seat Pleasant, Maryland countered the Spartans duo and trailed only 47-46 with a little over a minute on the clock.

Then the Spartans used their experience of having won the championship the year before to hold Howard scoreless and knock down some clutch free throws to seal the victory.

“Howard always plays us like this,” , the MEAC Coach of the Year and tournament outstanding coach. “It’s difficult to play them because they play a style like no one else in the country鈥 We pride ourselves on our defense and were able to make stops down the stretch.  In the end, Diamond and Mimi (Wheeler) made the difference.”

lamented that she was 鈥渄isappointed for [Howard鈥檚] players,鈥 during the post-game press conference.

 鈥淲e played hard and did the things that we planned to do. We just came up a little short,鈥 Grace said. 鈥淣orfolk State is a good basketball team. I am proud of this team. We will be back.”

Warren led the Bison with a team-high 19 points, while Creek added eight points and six rebounds.  

Wheeler led all scorers with 20 points and 12 rebounds while Johnson scored all 12 of her points in the second half.

Other HBCU Results

In the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC), it was Grambling State (20-14) who won the tournament for the first time with a 75-66 win over perennial power Texas Southern.  

The Tigers receive the automatic bid and will take on Montana State in the NCAA Division 1 tournament.

On the women’s side, Jackson State (26-6) cruised to an easy 68-44 win over Alabama State in the SWAC women’s championship.  Jackson State, who has been dominant all season, won their 21st game and will take on the University of Connecticut in the first round of the NCAA Division 1 tournament.

Fayetteville State (29-2) continues its trek to the NCAA Division 2 championship.  The Broncos, who are riding a 15-game win streak, defeated Fairmont State, 70-62 to advance to the NCAA Division 2 Sweet 16 against Gannon on March 22.

Finally, in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), top-ranked Langston (Oklahoma) made quick work of Ava Maria to advance to the Sweet 16 against LSU-Shreveport.  

Langston has had a 32-1 season and a 13-game win streak.

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