By LUT WILLIAMS BCSP Editor
The two-time defending champion Spartans of Norfolk State of the MEAC and Lady Tigers of Jackson State in the SWAC suffered their first conference losses over the weekend as those races heated up.
Norfolk State dropped a controversial 86-84 decision at home vs. Howard Saturday. The Spartans were assessed a technical foul for excessive celebration after star guard Joe Bryant Jr.’s driving layup put them up 84-83 with 1. seconds left. Official ruled players from the Spartans’ bench came onto the floor after they had been warned earlier in the game.
So much for home cooking! Howard point guard Elijah Hawkins canned both free throws to give the Bison an 85-84 lead. With the technical, Howard also gained possession of the ball. Norfolk State was forced to foul and Jelani Williams made one free throw before missing the second as the clock expired.
The loss by Norfolk State (12- 6, 2-1 MEAC) leaves 9-8 Morgan State on top of the MEAC men’s race with a 3-0 conference mark.
The Bears got excellent play from guard Isaiah Burke and forward Malik Miller in posting 90-85 and 83-66 wins over South Carolina State Saturday and Coppin State Monday.
Burke, a 6-1 senior guard and the MEAC’s second leading scorer at 19.1 points per game, canned 30 points in each of the wins. Miller, who leads the MEAC in rebounding at 10.0 per game, averaged 24.0 points and 15.5 rebounds in the two wins.
In key MEAC men’s games to watch his week, Morgan State takes on Howard Saturday and then hosts Norfolk State Monday.
On the MEAC women’s side, Norfolk State continued to roll. The Lady Spartans, 15-3 overall and 3-0 in the league under Larry Vickers, knocked Howard frorm the MEAC unbeaten ranks with an impressive 64-37 win Saturday.
Morgan State is currently second behind NSU at 2-0, 9-6 overall. The Morgan State and Norfolk State ladies tangle Monday in Baltimore after Morgan plays at Howard Saturday.
Jackson State’s Lady Tigers, after finishing 18-0 in SWAC play en route to taking their second straight league title last season, had their 21-game SWAC winning streak over the last two seasons halted by the ladies of Prairie View A&M Saturday, 69-65.
JSU led 47-41 entering the final period but were outscored by the Lady Panthers 28-18 to close out the game. Diana Rosenthal, Nyam Thornton and Mikayla Hutchinson each tallied 12 points for Prairie View.
PV then added a close 56-55 win over Alcorn State Monday in a game marred by a late-game brawl. The Lady Panthers improved to 5-1 and atop the women’s standings. They have a half-game lead over four others, JSU, Southern, Bethune-Cookman and Alabama A&M, all at 4-1.
Women’s games to watch this week include B-CU at JSU Saturday and PV at Alabama A&M Monday.
On the men’s side, Southern is setting the pace at 5-1. The Jags defeated Grambling State Saturday, 81-73. Alcorn State is in sole possession of second place after overtime wins on the road Saturday vs. Texas Southern (79- 74) and Monday vs. Prairie View A&M (77-68).
Southern is on the road at Arkansas-Pine Bluff Saturday and Miss. Valley State Monday. Alcorn is hosting Florida A&M (Sat.) and B-CU (Mon.).