Winston – Norfolk, VA (SportsNetwork.com) - There will be a team in the NCAA Tournament with a losing record.
Brian Darden and Reginald Johnson each scored 20 points to power Hampton to an 82-61 victory over Delaware State in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference title game on Saturday.
Deron Powers chipped in 16 points for Hampton (16-17), which last reached the NCAA Tournament in 2011 and lost to Duke in the first round. The Pirates, though, have a major NCAA upset on their resume. They were seeded 15th in the 2001 tourney and knocked off Iowa State in the first round before falling to Georgetown.
Amere May scored 20 points to lead Delaware State (18-17), which was trying for its second MEAC crown and first since 2005.
The sixth-seeded Pirates won four games this week, including a semifinal upset of second-seeded Norfolk State, to secure their fifth MEAC title. Fifth-seeded Delaware State knocked out top-seeded NC Central in the semis.
Darden's triple opened the game, but Delaware State scored the next eight and opened a 15-6 lead on a May three. Hampton called timeout and regrouped, using an 11-2 run to pull even at 17-17. It stayed close for the remainder of the half and the teams went to the break tied at 32-32.
Two May free throws gave the Hornets a 40-39 lead early in the second half, but Darden drained a three to put the Pirates ahead for good. It also ignited a 13-3 run. Powers and Ke'Ron Brown also hit shots from beyond the arc during the spurt, helping Hampton to a 52-43 advantage with just over 11 minutes to play.
May tried to keep Delaware State in it. He hit a three to make it a 61-56 game with just over 4 1/2 minutes remaining, but the Pirates followed with a 9-2 run to extend the margin to 70-58 with two minutes left and they continued to pull away.
Tyshawn Bell and DeAndre Haywood each scored 10 for Delaware State ... Hampton also reached the 2002 NCAA Tournament and lost to Connecticut in the first round, and lost the opening round game in 2006 against Monmouth.