For the fifth straight year, the Hampton University Lady Pirates women’s basketball team will play in the championship game of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Tournament. The Lady Pirates advanced to the 2013 title game with a 78-52 win over the Coppin State Lady Eagles in the semifinals on Friday March 15 at Norfolk Scope in Norfolk, Va.

The Lady Pirates (27-5) set a new program Division I record for most wins in a season, and this being their 18th consecutive win, ties them for the eighth-longest winning streak in the nation.

The opening minutes of the game were a back-and-forth affair, as the two teams traded the lead. Coppin State led 12-11 at the 13:06 mark of the first half when Kyra Coleman converted a three-point play. But the Lady Pirates scored the next six points to go up 17-12 with 11:07 left in the half after a Hamilton free throw. Hampton maintained the lead and took a 37-27 lead into halftime.

Coppin State tried to cut into the lead in the second half but the Lady Pirates eventually sparked a 25-8 run midway through the half to put the game away.

Hampton Junior guard Nicole Hamilton (Hampton, Va.) poured in a career-high 26 points on 9-for-14 shooting to lead four Lady Pirates in double figures. Senior forward Keiara Avant (Chesapeake, Va.), the MEAC Player of the Year, added 20 points and a team-high 12 rebounds for her 20th double-double of the season. Senior guard Olivia Allen (Kildeer, Ill.) poured in 13 points, while junior forward Alyssa Bennett (Hampton, Va.) added 12 points. Senior forward Ariel Phelps (Virginia Beach, Va.) also grabbed 10 rebounds.

Coppin State (16-16), the No. 5 seed, shot just 29.1 percent (16-for-55) from the floor – including a 6-for-25 (24.0 percent) clip in the second half. The Lady Eagles were just 2-for-10 (20.0 percent) from behind the three-point arc and 18-for-24 (75.0 percent) at the free throw line. Coppin State’s Kyra Coleman led the Lady Eagles with 20 points.

Hampton, in search of their fourth straight MEAC Tournament title, is the MEAC tournament top seed and will face No. 3 seed Howard in the championship game on Saturday March 16.


Jeff Cunningham

Special to the AFRO