NORFOLK, Va., — Angel Golden scored 10 of her game-high 26 points, including a key four-point play at the beginning of the fourth quarter that helped Bethune-Cookman pull away to a 58-47 victory over Maryland Eastern Shore in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Basketball Tournament semifinal round at the Scope Arena on Friday.
The third-seeded Wildcats (20-10) advance to the championship final against Norfolk State on Saturday at approximately 4 p.m., or roughly an hour after the conclusion of the men’s game.
The championship game will be live on ESPN3 and rebroadcast on ESPNU on Sunday at 9 a.m.
With the scored tied at 37 apiece going into the fourth, Golden converted on a four-point play at the 9:40 mark to give Bethune-Cookman a 41-37 advantage that the Wildcats would never relinquish.
“That shot by Angel proved to be a turning point in the game,” Bethune-Cookman coach Vanessa Blair-Lewis said. “It gave us confidence and a bit of separation from UMES.”
“It was a very tough game and I know that we needed something,” Golden, a First-Team All MEAC selection, said. “I got a good look and it happened to work out for us.”
Equally important in the Wildcat victory was its suffocating defense, especially in the fourth quarter, when it held the Hawks (17-14) to 3-for-21 shooting (14 percent) in the frame. B-CU’s defense was so effective that it held UMES scoreless for four minutes and 59 seconds — at which point, the Wildcats led 55-45.
“We came into the game focusing on shutting down (Ciani) Byrom,” Blair-Lewis said. “She killed us when we played them in the regular season, and we wanted to make sure that we cut off the head and force others to beat us.”
Byrom finished with a team-high 13 points, but she missed 12 of her 17 shots.
Despite the late deficit, UMES had numerous chances to cut into the lead and get back in the game. But the basket seemed to have a lid on it, as the Hawks missed shot after shot.
“One thing about this game is that if you don’t make shots, you can’t win,” UMES head coach Fred Batchelor said. “When you’re making shots, the basket seems large, but when you miss it gets smaller and smaller. I give credit to Bethune-Cookman because they did a great job in defending us.”
The Hawks, the No. 2 seed, were led by Byrom with her 13. Bairesha Gill-Miles recorded a double-double of 10 points and 14 rebounds, while Ra’Jean Martin contributed nine points.
BCU got 11 points from Chasimmie Brown.
“We went through a lot of adversity with injuries this season,” Blair-Lewis said. “We are now playing our best basketball and are ready to win a championship.”