Norfolk, VA (SportsNetwork.com) - Either the top-seeded North Carolina Central Eagles or the third-seeded Morgan State Bears will punch their ticket to the NCAA Tournament on Saturday afternoon when the squads meet up in the championship game of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Tournament at Scope Arena.
Morgan State's (15-15) run to the tournament began with an 81-68 victory over Florida A&M in the quarterfinal round before downing Copping State in Friday's semifinal, 79-64, for its fourth win in the past five games. After registering a career-high 29 points earlier in the week, Justin Black topped that number with 30 points in the win over CSU, shooting 10-of-16 from the field and 4- of-9 from 3-point range in the process. Anthony Hubbard flirted with a triple- double with 12 points, nine rebounds and nine assists, while Ian Chiles logged 18 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks.
NCCU began its tournament stay in the quarterfinals on Wednesday night with a dominating 92-46 victory over Howard, and it followed that up with another convincing win against fourth-seeded Norfolk State in the semifinals on Friday, 68-45, for its 19th consecutive victory to move to 27-5 overall. Although the Eagles were outshot from the field by Norfolk State, 41 percent to 40.4 percent, they made 20-of-24 from the free-throw line and won both the rebounding (32-22) and the turnover (14-7) battles as they cruised to the 23- point victory. Jordan Parks and Jeremy Ingram led the way with 14 points apiece, Emanuel Chapman poured in 13 points and Karamo Jawara tallied 11 points, seven assists and six rebounds.
NCCU narrowly outlasted Morgan State in the only previous meeting this season, 53-52 in Durham on Jan. 27, to extend its advantage in the all-time series to 46-40.
The Bears are one of the conference's more balanced clubs but still score fewer points per game (71.8 ppg) than they allow on the other end (72.4 ppg). Black's outstanding tournament has only added to a stellar campaign, as he pours in 19.3 ppg on greater than 45 percent field goal shooting. Chiles brings 15.3 ppg, 6.6 rpg and 3.1 bpg to the frontcourt and Hubbard adds 10.8 ppg and 6.9 rpg to the mix.
The Eagles have been far and away the MEAC's most well-rounded club this season, as they shoot 46.3 percent from the field for 74.0 ppg, and they rank in the top-10 nationally in both field-goal percentage defense (.373) and scoring defense (58.4 ppg). Ingram puts up 20.3 ppg and has been active and effective from the foul line (203-of-264, .769). Parks brings 10.3 ppg and 5.7 rpg to the table, while Alfonzo Houston narrowly misses the double-digit scorer's club with 9.6 ppg.