NORFOLK, Va. – The top-seeded Hampton University women’s basketball team has seen its streak of consecutive MEAC Tournament crowns snapped at five, as No. 8 seed Maryland Eastern Shore beat the Lady Pirates 52-50 on Wednesday at Norfolk Scope Arena.
UMES senior Jessica Long hit an off-balance jumper from the wing as the clock ticked-down to give the Lady Hawks the upset.
“Our girls were determined,” said UMES head coach Fred Batchelor. “They wanted it today, they were committed, they 100% bought into what we needed to do and I thought we played well enough to put ourselves in a position to make a shot with those four seconds to go and win the game. ”
UMES played with incredible energy all game, forcing Hampton out of their usual high-scoring offensive style while doing a tremendous job of taking care of the ball.
The Lady Hawks committed just four second half turnovers and out-hustled the Lady Pirates on the boards, 44-34, not allowing many second-chance opportunities.
“I feel like rebounding is an important aspect of every game,” said MEAC Defensive Player of the Year, Alexis Udoji. “I feel like if we can beat a team on the boards, we can control the game and we can win.”
UMES (13-16) tied the game on a Shawnee Sweeney trey with 12:45 to play in the second half and immediately took the lead on an Udoji lay-in 39 seconds later, 39-37 for their first lead of the game.
Hampton took a short-lived lead moments later on a three-pointer by Kenia Cole but the Hawks reclaimed the lead on another trey from Sweeney.
Sweeney, the senior guard who had started every game this season until today, took herself out of the starting lineup in the interest of energized play and defensive intensity, but it was her sharp shooting off the bench that gave UMES the edge.
The two teams battled back and forth the rest of the way, but the Hawks would maintain a slim edge throughout, allowing Hampton to tie the game just one more time.
The Lady Pirates (18-12) knotted it at 50 with 1:14 left after a jumper from sophomore guard Malia Tate-DeFreitas the MEAC Player of the Year, and Hampton had possession with the shot clock off in the closing seconds.
But a turnover gave UMES the ball with 4.1 seconds left and Long’s buzzer beater was all net.
Udoji recorded 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Long’s heroics capped an 11 point day.
White, a senior guard, led the Lady Pirates with 11 points on 4-for-8 shooting, hitting all three of her 3-pointers.
Junior guard Ryan Jordan and senior guard Kenia Cole each added 10 points.
Tate-DeFreitas added nine points, succumbing to the Hawks’ staunch defense, well shy of her 22 point average.
The Lady Pirates shot 35.6 percent (21-for-59) from the floor – despite shooting 28.6 percent (8-for-28) in the second half. Hampton was 6-for-17 (35.3 percent) from behind the arc and 2-for-6 at the free throw line.
UMES outshot the Pirates, posting a 36.4% clip and going 7-11 from the charity stripe.
The Lady Pirates opened the game on a 9-2 run, taking that lead with 17:15 left in the first half following a 3-pointer from White.
UMES fought back and cut the lead to 14-12 at the 12:49 mark on a trey from Sweeney, before Hampton scored five straight to go up 19-12.
Long cut the lead to 19-16 with a layup at the 6:25 mark, before the Lady Pirates went on a 9-2 run, taking a 28-18 lead with 3:28 left in the half after a jumper from White.
Hampton led 31-24 at the break.
The Lady Hawks opened the second half with a 15-6 run.
UMES led by as many as four down the stretch, taking a 49-45 lead with 2:18 remaining after a pair of free throws from Long.
But White answered with a 3-pointer, cutting the lead to 49-48 before Long hit a free throw with 1:37 left to give UMES a 50-48 lead.
“They did a good job with their scheme,” Hampton head coach David Six said of UMES. “We didn’t move the ball well from side to side. When we passed to one side we generally kept the ball on that side of the floor, so they relegated us to one side of the floor the entire night.”
This is Hampton Coach David Six’s first-ever MEAC Tournament loss, a string dating back to 2009.
“What can you say, they had a great game plan,” Six said. “Coach Batchelor did a great job so congratulations to them. They beat us, they played well the entire 40 minutes. They were very effective on what they did defensively.”
MEAC Sports Information