Norfolk, Va. (Mar. 14, 2019) --- Two-time defending Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference champion North Carolina Central made a strong statement in its bid for a three-peat, sprinting past Delaware State 75-57 in a MEAC Tournament quarterfinal at the Scope Arena Thursday evening.
The third-seeded Eagles shot 53.7% for the game (29-for-54) to advance to the tournament semifinals for the third straight year.
Randy Miller led four double-figure scorers with a game-high 18 points for NCCU. Raasean Davis (5-7 FGs), Larry McKnight, Jr. (4-7) and Jibri Blount (5-8) added 10 points each, while Zacarry Douglas had nine points and led all players with 12 rebounds in the contest for the Eagles.
Kevin Larkin was the high scorer for Delaware State with 16 points, while fellow senior Saleik Edwards added 13.
North Carolina Central (16-15) shot 60.7% in the first half (17-for-28) to lead 44-28 at the break.
After Delaware State pulled to within 37-28 on a jumper by D’Marco Baucum, the Eagles scored the last seven points of the first half.
NCCU scored six of the first eight points of the second half, and opened up a 50-30 lead on a put back dunk by Davis with 16:49 left to play.
The Eagles held their biggest lead, 70-49, on a lay-up by Jordan Perkins with 3:58 remaining.
“There’s a reason why North Carolina Central is a top team in our league year after year,” said Delaware State first-year head coach Eric Skeeters. “ I’m proud of my team, especially the seniors, for the growth we experienced this year. We’ve come a long way since the beginning of the season, and I’ll always be grateful to my staff and players for their contributions to my first year as a head coach. ”
Larkin, a native of Georgetown, Del., was also reflective on his lone season as a Hornet.
“This season meant everything to me because I had the chance to return home and play in front of my family and friends, and compete with a great group of guys.”
The NCCU contest was also the final college game for Edwards, who joined the Hornets during the 2017-18 season.
“This has been the best season of my life,” Edwards said. “I’m proud to be part of the rebuilding of this program. I believe great things are ahead for the program.”
Delaware State (6-25) shot 35.4% for the game, connecting on 23 of their 65 shots from the field, including just four- of-22 on three-point attempts.
NCCU won the rebound battle 38-33, although Delaware State took better care of the ball, committing just nine turnovers to 16 for the Eagles.
The contest was Delaware State’s first in the MEAC Tournament quarterfinals since 2015 … The Hornets are 2-2 vs, NC Central in MEAC Tournament match-ups.