Eagles have to step up on road
N.C. Central gets to visit reigning Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference regular-season champion Savannah State today (6 p.m., nccueaglepride.com).
But Savannah State (14-10, 8-2 MEAC) is in third place in the league behind second-place NCCU (17-7, 10-0).
The Tigers, missing just one player from their starting lineup from a year ago, will be clawing to put a scratch on NCCU’s unblemished conference record.
Savannah State is coached by Horace Broadnax, who was on Georgetown coach John Thompson’s team that featured Patrick Ewing when the Hoyas won the national championship in 1984.
Norfolk State is the only other MEAC team that is undefeated in the league. NCCU will not play Norfolk State during the regular season, but the squads could meet in the conference tournament.
NCCU coach LeVelle Moton said he was concerned Monday in the first half against Bethune-Cookman when starters Ray Willis, Emanuel Chapman and Stanton Kidd had to go to the bench with foul trouble.
Chapman’s situation was worrisome because he is the point guard, but Moton said he felt good about who he could bring off the bench to run the team.
Backup point guard Drimir Ferguson finished the game with five points and handed out a couple of assists, along with two turnovers.
“I coach the second team in practice harder than I coach the first team, because I know these opportunities will present themselves,” Moton said. “Foul trouble, that’s inevitable sometimes. Somebody may not have a flow, so we have to go to our bench and they have to step up and provide some willing opportunities and perform.”
Chapman wasn’t over there on the bench biting his fingernails
“Not at all; we pick up the slack for each other,” Chapman said. “Every day, we battle each other (during practice), so I’m more than confident in Drimir and anyone else that has to move to the point.”
Chapman returned to the game and knocked down a 3-pointer that broke a 65-65 tie with 4:23 left in the contest.
That was Chapman’s lone basket of the night, but those five assists he dished out moved him into second place in school history.
Chapman, a junior from Enloe High School in Raleigh, now has 367 career assists. He credited his teammates for putting all of those balls in the hole.
“I can’t get an assist without somebody else,” Chapman said.
Chapman needs 43 assists to pass the 409 Michael Wright distributed in the early to mid-1980s.
Willis, a senior, impacted the game when he returned to the floor, scoring NCCU’s final 11 points on six free throws and a dunk after his 3-pointer gave NCCU a six-point lead with 2:02 left in the contest.
“Jay (Copeland) kicked it out,” Willis said. “Really, I didn’t even think about where I was. My feet were set. I thank God for allowing it to go in. I guess I had good karma.”