By: Maya Dawson, Sports Editor
After having a first-round bye coming into the MEAC Tournament, the Spartans (18-11, 12-4 MEAC) faced the Bison of Howard University (15-14, 7-9 MEAC). Howard had advanced after a decisive win over South Carolina State 79-72.
Chanette Hicks, MEAC Player of the Year and MEAC Defensive Player of the Year led the Spartans as they captured their win over the Bison. The Spartans have won all of their matchups against the Bison this year with their last matchup going into overtime with the Spartans winning 69-60.
The Spartans started off strong defensively by holding the Bison to 25% shooting in the 1st quarter. Both De’Janaire Deas and La’Deja James were both hot going for a combined 17 points. They were major contributors to the 22-4 run that ended the first quarter.
In the second quarter, it was all Hicks. She had nine of the team’s fifteen points in the quarter as the Spartans didn’t let off the gas.
After one half the Spartans lead 39-23 with Hicks leading everyone with 11 points, six steals, and seven assists. Her constant pressure allowed the Spartans to capitalize off the Bison 13 turnovers. The Spartans had 20 points off the Bison’s turnovers at the half.
With momentum going their way after halftime, the Spartans looked to keep up the pace, so they scored 27 points in the third and only allowed eight. Everyone who played in the third scored for the Spartans, which allowed the Spartans to get out to their largest lead of the game.
With game in hand the Spartans cruised to the finish line. The Spartans won 76-45 with La’Deja James finishing the game with 14 points on 63% shooting and Chanette Hicks finishing with 18 points on 70% shooting with nine assists and eight steals.
The Bison never shot more than 50% in any quarter. They also turned the ball over 28 times which allowed the Spartans to have 41 points off turnovers. Nothing seemed to be connecting for the Bison as the Spartans collectively took advantage of their misfortunes.
“We knew that they were a capable team of beating us and I think you saw a fired-up team when we came out tonight.” Coach Larry Vickers said.
Hicks was close to meeting the MEAC Tournament record for most steals in a single game at 10. She has a chance to break that record along with the MEAC Tournament record for most steals in the tournament at 18, considering she had eight today.
With No.1 Bethune-Cookman falling to No.8 Maryland Eastern Shore 61-55 earlier today the Spartans are now the highest seed remaining in the tournament. The Semifinals match for the Spartans will either be against No.3 Morgan State or No.6 Delaware State on Friday, March 13.