NORFOLK, VA (March 8, 2023) – Norfolk State’s Kierra Wheeler recorded a double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds to power the top-seeded Lady Spartans to a 61-37 win over eighth-seeded South Carolina State Wednesday in quarterfinal action of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Tournament at The Scope.
Wheeler got help from Chrystal White, who added nine points and Niya Fields and Mahoganie Williams seven each. Makoye Diawara had eight rebounds to lead NC Central, which enjoyed a 39-28 edge on the boards, with 14 coming on the offensive glass.
Norfolk State, which improved to 24-6, advanced to Friday’s 12 noon semifinals and will meet the winner of Thursday’s quarterfinal contest between North Carolina Central, the fourth seed and fifth-seeded Maryland Eastern Shore.
The Lady Bulldogs of SC State ended their campaign at 3-26. Coach Tim Eatman’s team got 12 points from Nicole Gwynn and 10 points and eight rebounds from Lovely Sonnier in the loss.
The Lady Spartans, after a slow start which saw them ahead just 9-4 after one quarter, closed the first half on an 11-3 run to take a 22-14 advantage to the locker room, then opened the third quarter with 13 straight points to build a 35-14 lead with 5:42 left in the period. Wheeler had eight of her total during the spree.
The Lady Bulldogs used a 10-3 run to get to within 38-24 after three quarters, but Norfolk State’s 13-4 run to begin the final period put Coach Larry Vickers’ team ahead 51-28 and SC State could get no closer than 21 points the rest of the way.
Larry Vickers, the women’s MEAC Coach of the Year, acknowledged the slow start by his team and noted that a change in strategy got the Lady Spartans untracked.
“I thought we were a little tight early,” said Vickers. “I didn’t say much at halftime but we have enough players who have been here before and took it upon themselves to turn things around and help us move on. We decided to go inside more.”
After the Lady Spartan explosion, the Lady Bulldogs used a 10-3 run to get to within 38-24 after three quarters, but Norfolk State’s 13-4 run to begin the final period put Vickers’ team ahead 51-28 and SC State could get no closer than 21 points the rest of the way.
“They (NSU) played at a different level,” said Eatman. “They turned us over, leading to 22 points and dominated the offensive glass. We played all year long with a slim roster and even had a game with just six players and I’m proud the effort of our players who never complained.