NCCU romps, clinches share of 1st in MEAC regular season
There appears to be no letup with this N.C. Central team.
The Eagles were up 40 points late in the second half against S.C. State on Saturday, and NCCU hybrid guard Jordan Parks was going after the Bulldogs’ shots as if the game was on the line.
The regular-season championship in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference is up for grabs, and that sound 86-44 beating the Eagles put on the Bulldogs clinched at least a share of it.
NCCU would be outright MEAC champs with a nationally televised home win against Savannah State on Monday (7 p.m., ESPNU).
NCCU seniors Ebuka Anyaorah, Emanuel “Poobie” Chapman, Antonin Galaya, Reggie Groves, Alfonzo Houston and Jeremy Ingram were honored before the game.
The atmosphere was rather charged, and the Eagles initially tried to do too much, NCCU coach LeVelle Moton said.
“We were trying to hit too many home runs. We just needed to make singles,” Moton said.
The Eagles stopped trying to make spectacular plays and figured out that less is better when it comes to flair, Moton said.
“Just keep it simple. That’s the sign of a mature basketball team,” Moton said.
NCCU (23-5, 13-1 MEAC) beating the Bulldogs by 42 points might suggest that the Eagles are a dominant team.
Not so fast, Moton said.
“I don’t think we’re dominant,” Moton said. “We’re not the biggest. We’re not the most athletic team. We just have to play consistent defense.”
S.C. State made only 28.3 percent of its shots from the field. NCCU’s defense had something to do with that.
Ingram (25 points) going 6 of 10 from the field had a lot to do with NCCU shooting 48.4 percent. He was 5 of 8 from behind the 3-point line.
Parks had 21 points and 11 rebounds, and Chapman delivered nine assists.
FAMU coach Clemon Johnson recently said nobody in the MEAC could touch NCCU.
Johnson’s team nipped NCCU 63-60 on Jan. 11, but the Eagles stomped the Rattlers 92-49 on Feb. 10.
This season, nobody in the MEAC besides FAMU has beaten NCCU. The Eagles have won 15 games in a row, and they have 22 consecutive home wins.
S.C. State coach Murray Garvin didn’t specifically say NCCU is dominant but was clear that Johnson wasn’t off the mark by esteeming the Eagles so highly.
“Totally agree. They are a well-balanced team that’s very disciplined and well coached,” Garvin said.
Senior leadership is one of NCCU’s strengths, Garvin said.
NCCU had just five turnovers against S.C. State. That speaks to the discipline Murray mentioned. The Bulldogs, who committed 18 turnovers, could have used some of that, Garvin said.
“We can game plan, watch film, practice, etc.,” Garvin said. “If you are not able to carry over all of that preparation and apply it during the game, there is not much else you can do.”
Some of NCCU’s wins have been closer than the final scores indicated, Moton said. But the Eagles are good — not dominant, though, he said.
“Dominance is when you can go out on the floor and just out-athlete your opponent, out-physical them — you know, just overall, regardless of what they do, you’re just better,” Moton said. “We’re not at that point. We’ve been fortunate. The ball has bounced our way.”
“I wouldn’t say we’re a dominant squad,” Ingram said. “We can be dominant if we come out and play hard. But we’re not a dominant squad unless we bring that effort.”
That’s why Parks (3 blocks) was trying to swat shots when there was no way the Bulldogs were coming back.
“That’s what you’ve got to have. That’s what we try to input,” Moton said. “We’re trying to master our craft every time. Regardless of what the score is, what the lead is, what the situation is, we’re trying to master our craft each and every time.”
|NC CENTRAL 86, SC STATE 44|
Percentages: FG .283, FT .750.
3-Point Goals: 2-16, .125 (Mortimer 1-1, Smith 1-6, Adams 0-2, Wright 0-3, Stephens 0-4).
Team Rebounds: 1.
Blocked Shots: 2 (Palmer 2).
Turnovers: 18 (Palmer 5, White 3, Hezekiah 2, Wright 2, Mitchell, Radovic, Smith, Kirksey, Mortimer, Adams).
Steals: 3 (Palmer, Mortimer, White).
Technical Fouls: None.
Percentages: FG .484, FT .750.
3-Point Goals: 5-19, .263 (Ingram 5-8, Holmes 0-1, Parks 0-1, Moody 0-2, Galaya 0-2, Anyaorah 0-2, Groves 0-3).
Team Rebounds: 2.
Blocked Shots: 4 (Parks 3, Chapman).
Turnovers: 5 (Chapman 2, Jawara, Copeland, Ingram).
Steals: 12 (Ingram 5, Chapman 3, Holmes, Crawford II, Houston, Anyaorah).
Technical Fouls: None.
Officials_William Covington, John Corio, Billy Brooks.