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By Lut Williams, BCSP Editor

NORFOLK, VA – Norfolk State put together a blistering 17-0 to open the game, a 30-6 run in the first ten minutes and opened the second half on a 22-6 run in subduing nemesis North Carolina Central 87-58 in a MEAC Tournament Quarterfinal game at the Scope Arena Thursday night.

The win, coupled with South Division top seed North Carolina A&T’s unexpected exit from the tournament because of a positive COVID-19 tmeac 50th logoest Thursday, lands NSU in Saturday’s 1:30 p.m. championship game. Norfolk State would have faced NC A&T in Friday’s semifinal round.

The Spartans (15-7), who shared the regular season championship in the MEAC’s North Division with Coppin State and are the North’s 2nd seed, were led by junior guard Joe Bryant’s career-high 30 points that included canning 7 of 10 from 3-point range. As a team, NSU shot 46% (26 of 47) for the game but was even better from behind the arc, hitting on 14 of 28 (50%).

The Eagles (5-9) were as anemic as the Spartans were efficient, shooting just 31.8% (19 of 60) from the field including 23.8% (5 of 21) from long range.

N. C. Central, a three-time defending tournament champion, had beaten the Spartans in five of their last six meetings including in the 2017 and 2019 tournament finals, both times in NSU’s home city here in Norfolk.

In a game with such a history and rivalry, the action was expectedly chippy. Referees called it close from the opening tip, whistled 45 fouls on the night including six technicals, four on NSU and two on NCCU. NCCU redshirt junior forward Cameron Bowles got both for the Eagles and was ejected late in the second half.

Kashaun Hicks added 13 points and Devante Carter nearly had a triple-double scoring 10 points, pulling down 10 rebounds and handing out nine assists for the Spartans.

C. J. Keyser led NCCU with 19 points but struggled making just 7 of 19 shots, including 1 of 9 from 3-point range. Devon Palmer had 14 points and a team-high 7 rebounds.

In Friday’s 6 p.m. semifinal game, Morgan State, a 77-75 winner over Florida A&M earlier Thursday, will take on North Division top seed Coppin State. The winner will face Norfolk State Saturday.



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