North Carolina Central won its first Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Tournament championship in school history after edging the Morgan State Bears, 71-62, in the title game on March 15 in Norfolk, Va.
The No. 3 seed Bears had hopes of suffocating N.C. Central with stifling defense, the same way they did to their opponents in each of the preceding tournament rounds. But their plans didn’t go as arranged as No. 1 seed N.C. Central’s Jeremy Ingram, the MEAC Player of the Year, went on a scoring frenzy, posting a game-high 29 points to lead his team to victory.
The Bears kept the score tight throughout most of the game by feeding senior center Ian Chiles in the post; Chiles scored a team-high 26 points. But senior point guard Justin Black, who scored nearly 30 points in both the quarterfinals and semifinals of the tournament, wasn’t able to find a rhythm and finished with only 9 points.
“If you look at the game before that, [Justin] scored 23 in the first half against Coppin State,” said Bears head coach Todd Bozeman after the game, according to MEACSports.com. “So they really made an effort and you could see it when we put him back in right before the end of the half and he brought the ball up, three or four guys went to him.”
With Black neutralized, Morgan State leaned on other scorers, including senior guard Anthony Hubbard, who scored 12 points, and junior forward Blake Bozeman, who added 10 points. Still, it wasn’t enough to overcome N.C. Central, who made 25-of-30 free throw attempts.
"They're a good team," Bozeman said, according to MEACSports.com. "They only lost five games. They run their stuff and the make their free throws. I thought we played hard, but the better team won."
N.C. Central will now receive an automatic bid into the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, scheduled to start March 18 and end with the championship game April 7.