NORFOLK, Va., — No. 6 North Carolina Central won the 2018 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Tournament Championship for the second consecutive season after topping No. 1 seed Hampton 71-63 inside the Norfolk Scope Arena.

With the victory, the Eagles earned a bid into the NCAA Tournament while capturing its third tournament title in five years. North Carolina Central’s head coach LeVelle Moton was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Coach.

North Carolina Central shot 47 percent (26-of-55) from the floor, including 58-percent (14-of-24) after intermission. Pablo Rivas, the tournament’s Most Outstanding Performer, delivered a championship performance, finishing with 22 points on 8-of-13 shooting off the bench.

After a 28-27 halftime deficit, North Carolina Central opened the second half with a 13-2 run, capped off by a transition three-pointer by Rivas, 38-30.

After a 30-second timeout by the Pirates, Hampton clawed its way back into the contest, slicing the margin down to one, 40-39, after a dunk from Trevond Barnes.

North Carolina Central kept its composure, increasing the advantage back to seven with less than 10 minutes remaining, 52-45.

Hampton refused to go away as they made another run to reclaim the lead after a jumper by Greg Heckstall, 53-52, with 7:30 left.

With under five minutes remaining, both clubs were tied at 58 until the Eagles took control with an 11-0 spurt, in which the Pirates were unable to recover.

North Carolina Central’s Jordan Perkins fell an assist shy of a double-double with 13 points and nine assists. John Guerra and Reggie Gardner, Jr. chipped in 12 and 11, respectively, in the victory.

Both squads were deadlocked after Hampton’s Akim Mitchell converted a 3-point play to tie the game at 9-9 until North Carolina Central scored five unanswered with 12:33 remaining before intermission to take a 14-9 lead.

Hampton fought back with a quick 6-0 run and reclaimed the lead, 15-14, but a fast break layup from North Carolina Central’s Pablo Rivas put the Eagles ahead again, 16-15.

With time dwindling before halftime, Perkins scored on a fast-break layup and put the Eagles ahead, 27-25, but a three by Hampton’s Malique Trent-Street gave the Pirates a one-point advantage at the break.

Hampton (17-15) had three Pirates in double figures, led by Trent-Street with a team-high 15 points. Mitchell and Kalin Fisher netted 11 points apiece in the loss.

North Carolina Central awaits its next opponent; the NCAA Selection Show will take place Sunday at 6 p.m. EST.

All-Tournament Team
Malique Trent-Street, Hampton
Charles Wilson-Fisher, Hampton
Tiwian Kendley, Morgan State
Raasean Davis, North Carolina Central
Pablo Rivas, North Carolina Central

Most Outstanding Performer
Pablo Rivas, North Carolina Central

Most Outstanding Coach
LeVelle Moton, North Carolina Central

Courtesy: MEAC


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