CHESAPEAKE, Va. – The Norfolk State bowling team won the if-necessary match of its side of the conference tournament bracket on Saturday afternoon against UMES to advance to MEAC Championship final on Sunday at the AMF Lanes in Chesapeake.
The Spartans will play Delaware State at noon in a best-of-seven contest to determine this year’s 2016 MEAC champion. It will mark NSU’s second straight appearance in the final and its third overall after winning its first and only conference title in 2012.
The match against the Hornets will be tape-delayed on ESPNU on April 3 at 11 p.m. DSU won all three of its matches on Saturday to advance to the final.
Norfolk State knocked out Southern Division champion North Carolina A&T in the first match of the day before defeating Morgan State in the next round of bracket play, competed in a best-of-seven, Baker format. After they earned a break for the third round, the Spartans took on three-time defending champion UMES, which had won last year’s title match by a 4-3 score over NSU.
Norfolk State nearly returned the favor in the first match, falling behind by a 3-0 margin before eventually staying alive to a game 7. The Hawks won to keep their championship hopes going, forcing the if-necessary match of the double-elimination bracket. The Spartans won the first two games of that second match with UMES before the Hawks rallied to win the next two.
The Spartans, though, won the next two games for the match win to send them to Sunday’s championship round.
Norfolk State was the No. 6 seed last year when it advanced to the title match against UMES. The Spartans were again sixth this year after Friday’s qualifying round. In the first match on Saturday, NSU faced a familiar foe in North Carolina A&T, a team that edged the Spartans for the Southern Division regular season title on the last day of the last divisional of the season.
Three straight 200 games, including a 257 in the second, gave NSU a 3-0 lead over the No. 3 seed Aggies. After A&T won the fourth game, the Spartans took the fifth by a 199-175 score to win the match 4-1.
In the other match on NSU’s side of the bracket, No. 7 seed Morgan State downed No. 2 seed UMES in the first round, 4-2, despite the Hawks having the edge in total pinfall. The Spartans went up 2-0 against Morgan State before the Bears rallied to win the next two games, including 180-179 in game 4. The Spartans bowled a score of 234 to win the fifth game before falling by five pins in game 6. In the final game, NSU won 169-151 to advance and earn a reprieve for a few hours.
UMES won in seven games against North Carolina A&T and then in five in a victory over Morgan State while NSU waited. That set up the final matchup with the Spartans.
The Hawks won the first three games to build an early lead, the opposite of last year when NSU went up 3-0 in the championship round against UMES before the Hawks rallied to win the next four games and the conference title. This time, it was NSU who nearly pulled it off, as wins of 160-158, 201-194 and 178-170 tied it up at 3-3.
UMES, though, won 211-179 in the deciding seventh game to force another best-of-seven matchup as a result of each team having just one loss.
The Spartans won the first two games of the next round, 225-182 and 231-169. The Hawks easily won the third game, 212-159, before a 186-170 win in game 4. Norfolk State pulled ahead late in game 5 to win 169-146 before completing the match win with a 189-174 triumph in the sixth game.
Originally posted on NSUSpartans.com.