NORFOLK, Va., (MEAC) – Behind five players in double figures, top seed North Carolina Central cruised past Maryland Eastern Shore 77-49 in the semifinals of the 2017 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Tournament in the Norfolk Scope Arena on Friday.

The Eagles (24-8) advanced to Saturday’s championship game, to be aired live on ESPN2 at 1 p.m. EST, to face either No. 2 Norfolk State or No. 11 Howard.

Patrick Cole, the MEAC Player of the Year, led the way with a game-high 21 points, while also grabbing seven rebounds, dishing out six assists and grabbing five steals. Dajuan Graf added 14 points, while Kyle Benton chipped in 12 points.

Del’vin Dickerson had 11 points and eight rebounds. Pablo Rivas scored 10.

The outcome was clear from the start, as NCCU jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the opening minutes and led 14-2 with 14:25 left in the first half when there was a shot clock malfunction. The delay allowed MDES, the No. 5 seed, to regroup, and the Hawks came out of the delay going on a 17-6 run, cutting the lead to 21-17 after Bakari Copeland hit three free throws.

But NCCU answered with a run of its own, 17-4 to close out the half, taking a 38-21 lead into the break after Cole hit a three in the waning moments.

That momentum carried over into the second half, which was never in doubt — giving the Eagles their second blowout win of the tournament. NCCU has previously defeated Bethune-Cookman by 35 in the quarterfinals.

MDES (15-16) was held to just 29.8 percent (17-for-57) shooting for the game, and NCCU held a 48-31 edge on the glass.

Copeland led the Hawks with 15 points.


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