GAME NOTES: The 2013 Mid-Eastern Atlantic Conference Tournament continues on Wednesday with the quarterfinal round, as the eighth-seeded Bethune-Cookman Wildcats face off against the top-seeded Norfolk State Spartans.
The winner will advance to Friday's semifinals to play the winner of the Morgan State/Savannah State matchup.
Bethune Cookman opened up the tournament on Wednesday afternoon with a strong 89-78 win over Coppin State to advance to the quarters. The Wildcats had been losers of three in a row prior to the victory, as they avenged a loss to Coppin State just five days earlier.
Norfolk State (21-10) made a splash on the national scene last season when it upset No. 2 seed Missouri in the second round of the NCAA Tournament as a No. 15 seed. This season, it earned the No. 1 seed in the MEAC Tournament by finishing the league slate a perfect 16-0, becoming the first team to go undefeated in MEAC play since Coppin State in 1993-94. The Spartans are no strangers to success in this tournament, as they won the championship last season as the second seed.
Norfolk State won the lone meeting between the teams this season by the skin of its teeth, 62-61 at home on March 2. As a result, the Spartans lead the all-time series by a 16-10 margin.
Bethune-Cookman saved one of its best offensive performances of the season for its opening-round game, as it shot 33-of-63 from the floor and 17-of-28 from the foul line in the 11-point triumph over Coppin State. Adrien Coleman was outstanding in the win. Not only did he pour in 28 points but he filtered with a triple-double by adding nine rebounds and seven assists. Also piecing together great performances were Kevin Dukes (22 points, 5-of-11 from 3-point range) and Javoris Bryant (19 points, 10 rebounds). The Wildcats, who net 66 ppg this season on a mere 41.3 percent field goal shooting, are paced by one of the conference's best players in Coleman, who scores 17.6 ppg on nearly 55 percent from the field while grabbing 7.1 rpg. Dukes is the next-best option with 10.5 ppg but his field goal percentage (.340) is lackluster to say the least.
Of the Spartans' 16 league wins, 11 of them came by seven points or less, including their regular-season finale against NC A&T, which they claimed in a 55-48 final. They outshot the Aggies from the field, .444 to .316, and were paced by the efforts of Rob Johnson, who scored 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting to go along with eight rebounds. Pendarvis Williams was also impressive in the triumph with 16 points. Norfolk State's incredible play in close games this season has allowed it to go undefeated without boasting excellent numbers, as it just barely scores more points (66.6 ppg) than it allows to its opponents (65.3 ppg). Williams leads the way with 14.1 ppg and is an excellent outside shooter, making 61 3-pointers at a 40.7 percent clip. Malcolm Hawkins (11.8 ppg) and Johnson (9.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg) are also consistent, and while Jamal Fuentes isn't much for scoring (5.2 ppg), he hands out 5.2 apg.
Bethune-Cookman proved that it can hang with Norfolk State a few weeks back, but despite the Spartans inability to dominate many teams, it always finds a way to win games down the stretch, and that'll be the case in this one as well.
Game Date and Time