Both of N.C. Central University’s basketball teams hosted and lost to Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference opponent Hampton University last Monday at McDougald-McLendon Arena.
It was a special night for the men’s team regardless as ESPNU televised the 7 p.m. game as well as the halftime retirement of head coach LeVelle Moton’s jersey from his own time at NCCU between 1992–1996.
As #15, Moton was a dominant force for NCCU men’s basketball, earning the nickname “Poetry n’ Motion” as he became the school’s third all-time leading scorer with 1,714 points and earned All-CIAA First Team, NCAA Division II South Atlantic All-Region First Team and NCAA Division II All-America Honorable Mention honors during his junior and senior years. He was inducted into the NCCU Athletics Hall of Fame in 2004.
The Lady Eagles took the court first at 4 p.m. against the Pirates but were unable to get a foothold in the first half against the current conference champs with a first-half final score of 32–20 Hampton.
Part of the reason for NCCU’s initial loss can be attributed to shot accuracy: the Lady Eagles only made 23 percent of their shots in the first twenty minutes of play while the Pirates had a 45 percent success rate in comparison. Successful three-pointers were crucial to bring the game back home.
The start of the second half didn’t look promising for Lady Eagles basketball with their 12-point deficit, but they didn’t throw in the towel just yet.
Sophomore forward Paulina Afriyie, who notched her seventh double-double this game, added six points in the third quarter to help the Lady Eagles stay in the game. But every time NCCU caught a good run, Hampton did as well to end the game with a final score of 62–53.
Lady Eagles basketball’s 2017–18 season record fell to 6–16 overall and 4–5 MEAC.
The men’s team didn’t fare much better.
In the first half, the Pirates led wire-to-wire, opening up with a 22–9 advantage in the first eight minutes of play. NCCU got on the board with a 2-pointer by senior forward Pablo Rivas, but Hampton rode the scoring wave to halftime with a 46–33 lead into the locker room.
The second half started off strong for the Eagles, who cut the scoring difference down through five straight points by junior center Raasean Davis.
With just over 11 minutes left in the game, junior guard Larry McKnight Jr. hit a jump shot from 15 feet out to send the arena into a frenzy as the Eagles got closer to winning than they’d been all night at 58–56 Hampton.
Despite the excitement, the Eagles went cold when they were outscored by Hampton 28–14 in the last quarter to a final score of 86–70 for another Pirates win Monday night.
Despite the loss, Monday’s game saw exceptional scoring ability from some Eagles. McKnight Jr. led the charge with his first NCCU double-double, 18 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. Reggie Gardner Jr. added 16 points, Jordan Perkins added 14, and Raasean Davis added 11 before fouling out of the contest.
NCCU men’s basketball’s 2017–18 season record currently stands at 12–11 overall and 6–3 MEAC.
(Editors’ note: the above records were correct at the time of writing. Following this past week’s series of conference road trips, NCCU’s women’s basketball’s record is 6–18 overall and 4–7 MEAC while men’s basketball sits at 12–13 overall and 6–5 MEAC.)