NCCU wins second in a row, defeats Delaware State, 87-52

NCCU Athletics

Being at home just makes things easier.

North Carolina Central has won two in a row at McDougald-McLendon Arena after defeating Delaware State 87-52 Monday night. The 35-point margin of victory was the largest in a regular-season MEAC game since Jan. 23, 2017, a 74-39 win over Howard.

The Eagles (11-13, 6-4) improved to 7-2 at home this season. They did it by shooting lights out against the Hornets (4-19, 1-9). NCCU shot 50 percent from the field for the game, and were particularly hot in the first half.

It’s the third time this season the team has shot 50 percent from the floor or better in consecutive games. They shot 62.9 percent against Warren Wilson and 51.1 percent against George Mason in November, and did it for a second time later that month, shooting 53 percent and 58 percent from the field in consecutive games against Southern and Christendom.

“I thought we came out and made some good passes, which in return created some good shot opportunities,” Eagles’ head coach LeVelle Moton said. “Zacarry (Douglas) was huge at the beginning, Randy (Miller) was huge at the beginning.”

Moton said there have been times when he can tell how his team is going to perform just by watching them practice. With one day of rest between Saturday’s game and the contest on Monday, the veteran coach had a feeling a big game was coming.

“That’s the one thing you can’t really control, being able to shoot,” Moton explained, “But you can control your energy. You have to use it to your advantage. We had a good practice. Randy (Miller) came back and had a great practice yesterday in terms of his energy and you see the results. It goes hand and hand. That’s one thing I learned in my playing career and I try to relay that to them.”

Up 49-30, the Eagles shot 57.6 percent from the floor in the opening 20 minutes and 50 percent from three. Junior guard Randy Miller, Jr. led the attack early on, connecting on 4-of-5 from 3 in the first half and had all 14 of his points at the break, securing his 15th double-digit scoring game this season.

Miller had help from Zacarry Douglas, who had 14 of his 19 at intermission. Raasean Davis (10), Larry McKnight (10) gave the team four players in double figures.

After the Hornets tied the game at nine, the Eagles went on a 16-0 run. Miller got it started with consecutive 3s. Douglas then knocked down a wide open triple from the top of the key to make it 20-9. Douglas would score six in a row to put the home team up 23-9. DSU didn’t do themselves any favors, at one point missing nine shots in a row from the field.

An old-fashioned three-point play by McKnight gave NCCU a 20-point lead with more than five minutes remaining in the first half.

The Eagles got their largest lead (26) in the first half when Douglas drew a foul after slamming home a dunk on a fast break. The Hornets closed the half on a 7-0 run, but missed their first three shots of the second half, and NCCU led by no less than 24 in the second half.

When the two teams met in Dover on Jan. 14, the Eagles needed a Jordan Perkins layup to escape with a one-point win. This one lacked the drama as NCCU improved to 12-3 in games they led at halftime.

“Anytime the ball goes in you really feel good about yourself,” Moton said. “When they hit some early that’s normally a sign that it’s going to be a good shooting night.”

The Eagles play again on Saturday at Norfolk State.

“Obviously it’s going to be a huge basketball game,” Moton said. “They’ll be ready to play. We got our hands full. We’re going to have to be men. It’s going to be a character test and I’m looking forward to it.”

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Sports reporter Jonas Pope IV covers college recruiting, high school sports, NC Central and the ACC for the Herald-Sun and The News & Observer.