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Allen's 16, tight defense lead Hampton past Howard 59-38 for 4th straight MEAC championship

Olivia Allen scored 16 points and Hampton finished an unbeaten season in Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference play with a 59-38 victory against Howard in the championship game Saturday, the Lady Pirates' 19th straight victory.

Hampton (28-5), the top seed, became the first team to go through the MEAC regular season unbeaten and also win the conference tournament since Coppin State in 2006. It also became the second school to win the conference tournament four consecutive years; Howard did it from 1987-90.

Alyssa Bennett added 14 points and Keiara Avant 12 for the Lady Pirates.

Kara Smith led Howard (20-11) with 12.

Howard shot just 21.4 percent (12 of 56) overall and was 3 of 19 (15.8 percent) on 3-pointers. Saadia Doyle, the leading scorer in MEAC history, was matched up against Bennett, the league's defensive player of the year, and finished with nine points on 2-of-9 shooting. She averages 20.6.

The Lady Bison trailed 35-15 at halftime and closed to within 41-29 with 10 minutes to play before a 9-0 run by Hampton removed any suspense.

Hampton took command right away.

The Lady Pirates used a 15-3 run in the opening minutes to lead 15-4, then added a 14-0 run just before halftime to stretch their lead to 22. Bennett had six points and Avant five in the early burst, and Allen fueled the latter with a pair of 3-pointers and a three-point play — all in a span of 1:17.

Eight consecutive points by the Lady Bison in the second half pulled them to 41-29, but Nicole Hamilton hit a pair of free throws, Bennett made a 3-pointer from the right side, and Avant scored inside twice to finish off a 9-0 burst, restoring the lead to 50-29 and the outcome was essentially secured.

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