Late layup lifts Norfolk State
Senior guard Rob Hampton hit a layup in the lane with 2.0 seconds left to break a tie and give No. 6 seed Norfolk State a 55-53 win over No. 3 Coppin State in a MEAC Tournament quarterfinal on Thursday night at the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
The win sends the Spartans into the MEAC Tournament semifinals on Friday night against No. 2 Hampton. Tip-off is slated for 8 p.m.
The Spartans (12-19) trailed 53-51 after Coppin State center Ceslovas Kucinskas hit two free throws with 3:21 left. But NSU held the Eagles scoreless the rest of the way. NSU wing player Rodney McCauley made two free throws with 1:03 left to tie the game at 53-all. CSU guard Tony Gallo missed a jumper at the other end, NSU’s Kyle O’Quinn rebounded and the Spartans called timeout.
Pendarvis Williams missed a 3-pointer with 14 seconds remaining, but Spartan point guard Aleek Pauline got the offensive rebound and NSU called timeout with 8 seconds left.
Hampton took the inbounds pass around the top of the key and penetrated into CSU’s zone. His up-and-under shot in the lane just went under the outstretched hands of several CSU defenders and rolled home with 2.0 seconds left. The Eagles were unable to get off a shot in the closing seconds.
Despite controlling much of the first half, the Spartans found themselves down eight, 48-40, after CSU forward Branden Doughty hit a free throw with 7:43 remaining. But CSU missed 11 of its final 12 field goal attempts down the stretch. The Spartans got a lift from forward Marcos Tamares, who scored six points in the final seven and a half minutes, making two field goals and two free throws, to help NSU rally.
The Spartans defense put the clamps on Coppin State in the first half, holding the Eagles to 26 percent shooting from the floor (8-of-31). The Eagles, who lead the MEAC in 3-point field goal percentage, hit just 1-of-11 from behind the arc in the first half.
NSU didn’t do much better – hitting just 34 percent from the floor (11-of-32) – but turned the ball over just four times in the half. Hampton (eight) and Pauline (seven) combined for 15 first-half points and the Spartans again got a big lift from their bench in the form of freshman Williams, who had four points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals in the first stanza. His fast-break dunk with 40 seconds left in the half gave NSU a 29-18 lead, matching its largest of the first half, and the Spartans led 29-20 at the half.
CSU scored the first nine points of the second half to tie things up at 29-all, but two Williams 3-pointers gave the Spartans the lead back.
The Eagles would make another surge. A Michael Harper jumper gave CSU its first lead of the half at 41-40 with 10:10 left. Jordan Lee was fouled on a 3-pointer and made all three free throws, then Tony Gallo hit a 3-pointer on CSU’s next trip to make it 47-40. Doughty then went 1-of-2 from the line to give CSU the 48-40 advantage, but then the Eagles went cold, opening the door for NSU’s comeback.
Williams led NSU with 11 points off the bench. Hampton and O’Quinn scored 10 apiece. O’Quinn also grabbed 13 rebounds and blocked five shots.
Antonio Williams led the Eagles with nine points and nine rebounds.