Delaware State (14-17) vs. Hampton (14-16)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, March 14, 6 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Norfolk Scope Arena (10,253) -- Norfolk, Virginia. Television: None. Home Record: DSU 8-3, Hampton 7-7. Away Record: DSU 5-12, Hampton 7-8. Neutral Record: DSU 1-2, Hampton 0-1. Conference Record: DSU 8-8, Hampton 11-5. Series Record: Hampton leads, 19-15.
GAME NOTES: After earning a bye into the quarterfinal round, the third-seeded Hampton Pirates will face off against the sixth-seeded Delaware State Hornets in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Tournament at Norfolk Scope Arena.
The winner will advance to Friday's semifinal round to take on NC A&T.
Delaware State played in the first round on Tuesday night and took care of business against Howard, 73-61, to snap a two-game losing skid. The Hornets are now 14-17, and they'll try to win two games in a row for the first time in nearly a month.
Hampton's overall record wasn't much to be proud of (14-16), but it played its best during the MEAC schedule, finishing 11-5 and winning the tie-breaker over Savannah State to earn the No. 3 seed and a bye into the quarterfinals. The Pirates' latest game came on March 7 at home, when they lost to North Carolina Central, 68-64.
Hampton holds a 19-15 lead over Delaware State in the all-time series, which includes a season sweep this year.
The Hornets led from the get-go is their opening-round game against Howard, shooting 51 percent from the field in the 12-point victory. Albert Thomas led the way with 21 points while also handing out six assists. Tahj Tate scored 14 points, Marques Oliver tallied 13 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks, while Casey Walker added 12 points to the winning effort. Despite playing solid defense this season, holding teams to just 62.9 ppg, Delaware State has struggled due to its lackluster offensive attack, which scores less than 60 ppg on 40.7 percent from the field. Tate is the lone player to score in double figures on a nightly basis, netting 12.6 ppg on 41.5 percent from the floor. Oliver is a difference-maker across the board with 9.0 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 2.0 bpg and 1.8 spg.
The Pirates fought hard against NCCU in their regular-season finale, chopping their 18-point second-half deficit down to just two with under two minutes to play, but they could never overtake the lead. Although they shot less than 40 percent from the floor, they still got a handful of strong performances. Du'Vaughn Maxwell logged 16 points, nine rebounds and four blocks, while Dwight Meikle (16 points), Emmanuel Okoroba (15 points) and Ke'Ron Brown (10 rebounds, two blocks) were all solid in reserve minutes. Hampton has played very well this season in close games, which is indicative of its strong league record despite a -1.5 scoring margin. The team only shoots 39.2 percent from the floor, while Deron Powers (11.9 ppg) and Maxwell (10.2 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 2.5 bpg, 1.1 spg) the top performers.
Although Hampton defeated Delaware State twice this season, both matchups were tightly-contested, so expect much of the same in this one. The Pirates have shown a knack for dismissing weaker competition this season, and they should be able to take advantage of the extra rest to advance to the semifinal round.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Hampton 63, Delaware State 58
03/14 10:51:07 ET