NCCU comes up hot in MEAC 'preview' showdown
A preview of coming attractions in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference ended with N.C. Central upstaging Hampton 74-61 in McDougald-McLendon Gymnasium on Tuesday.
This one didn’t count in the MEAC standings. Hampton coach Ed Joyner Jr. and NCCU coach LeVelle Moton agreed before the season to have their teams meet on the court without the game being recorded as a conference matchup. The coaches needed a game to fill out their schedules.
“We treated it as a conference game,” Moton said. “I really had concerns about this Hampton team. They were really good on video. Once they get comfortable with you, they can kill you and attack you in so many different ways.”
So the Eagles kept switching up their defenses, keeping the Pirates guessing.
“When they stayed in the man, we were pretty much playing it even,” Joyner said. “When they went to the zone early on, we were able to get the ball inside, and we were able to convert some baskets inside.”
The score was 31-31 at halftime.
“Late in the second half, we didn’t convert the same baskets. You’ve got to make shots on the road,” Joyner said.
Two early fouls on Hampton forward Du’Vaughn Maxwell, the Pirates’ leading scorer and rebounder, allowed NCCU to attack in the paint.
Maxwell (6-7, 215) showed up in Durham averaging 14.6 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. But his 3-pointer not even two minutes into the game was his only field goal of the night, and he hit a free throw and had four rebounds.
NCCU’s leading scorer managed just one field goal, too. Jeremy Ingram got a shot to fall early in the second half. He was 1 of 8 from the field and made 3 of 6 of his free-throw attempts.
Joyner said the Pirates didn’t do anything special on defense to slow down Ingram, who entered the game as the No. 6 scorer in the nation at 23.4 points per contest.
“Obviously he wasn’t on tonight,” Joyner said.
That’s all it was, Ingram said. The Charlotte senior said he got clean looks at the basket but just didn’t knock down the shots. But it’s a team game, Ingram added.
“We’ve got a lot of players that can score the ball,” Ingram said. “Dante (Holmes) can really score the ball. It’s good to have him back, takes a lot of pressure off me. If guys are scoring and we’re winning, then I’m cool with that. I don’t have to score the ball. I can do other things to help us win.”
Holmes led NCCU with 15 points. It was his second time suiting up for the Eagles since becoming eligible to play this semester after sitting out due to NCAA transfer rules.
Moton said Holmes is still in the learning curve, but he’s getting there.
“He doesn’t know everything that we’re doing, so we’ve got to kind of modify the playbook a little bit,” Moton said. “But he’s pretty good at what he does know.”
Holmes knows toughness. That’s what he brings to the floor, NCCU forward Jordan Parks said.
“Dante adds that raw, gritty, grimy basketball to the team,” Parks said.
Holmes said that’s how he grew up in the Charm City.
“I guess they call it Baltimore,” Holmes said of his style of play. “That’s what it is. I just try to bring what my city has taught me — toughness.”
The win against Hampton (7-8) made it 14 straight at home for the Eagles (8-4), who had four players score in double figures: Parks and Jay Copeland had 14 points, and pass-first point guard Emanuel Chapman scored 11.
The Pirates on defense were going under screens against Chapman. In other words, they were disrespecting his ability to shoot. So Moton told Chapman to start scoring the ball, and Chapman made Hampton pay.
|NC CENTRAL 74, HAMPTON 61|
Percentages: FG .270, FT .759.
3-Point Goals: 5-22, .227 (Darden 2-6, Mercado 2-6, Maxwell 1-2, Brown 0-2, Meikle 0-2, Powers 0-4).
Team Rebounds: 5.
Blocked Shots: 5 (Maxwell 2, Meikle, Pressley, Okoroba).
Turnovers: 15 (Meikle 3, Okoroba 2, Maxwell 2, Darden 2, Cooks 2, Mercado, Brown, Key, Powers).
Steals: 9 (Brown 2, Key 2, Darden, Cooks, Mercado, Adams, Okoroba).
Technical Fouls: None.
Percentages: FG .491, FT .636.
3-Point Goals: 6-14, .429 (Chapman 3-4, Jawara 1-1, Moody 1-3, Holmes 1-3, Houston 0-1, Ingram 0-2).
Team Rebounds: 4.
Blocked Shots: 6 (Jawara 2, Ingram, Parks, Copeland, Chapman).
Turnovers: 22 (Moody 6, Copeland 4, Ingram 4, Parks 2, Holmes 2, Jawara 2, Houston, Galaya).
Steals: 4 (Jawara 3, Holmes).
Technical Fouls: None.
Officials_William Covington, Mel Chettum, Lionel Butler.