Joe Bryant leads NSU to the MEAC tournament final with career-high performance

On Thursday night, the Spartans dominated their quarterfinal MEAC matchup versus North Carolina Central. After holding the Eagles scoreless for six minutes and reaching a 17-0 lead to start the first period, NSU maintained their lead over NCCU for the remainder of the game; clinching an 87-58 victory at Scope Arena. 

Last night’s win guarantees NSU a shot at the MEAC championship title after North Carolina pulled out of the tournament due to COVID cases within the program. The Spartans will advance to the final round of the tournament to play the winner of Friday’s Coppin State versus Morgan State game. 

Joe Bryant led the Spartans every step of the way, hitting two three-pointers in the first period to extend an early lead. After an early timeout was called by the Eagles, Jalen Hawkins hit a three-pointer of his own, extending the lead. NCCU rallied late in the first period; reducing the deficit to 11 by the end of the first half. 

The Spartans entered the second period with a 44-33 lead, and never looked back as Bryant scored 11 straight points. After increasing the lead to 22, Bryant and Hawkins drained a pair of three-pointers to add to the 66-38 lead. Three deep shots and a pair of made free throws allowed the Spartans to reach their greatest lead of the night at 30 points before finishing the night with a score of 87-58. 

Bryant reached a career record; making seven three-point shots and scoring a total of 30 points. Devante Carter came just one assist shy of a triple double with 10 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. Kashaun Hicks also scored in double digits in the first period, scoring a total of 13 points.

C.J. Keyser led the Eagles with 19 points, followed by Devin Palmer with 14 points. NCCU finished the season with a 5-9 record. 

The MEAC championship game will take place this Saturday at 1 p.m., where the Spartans will seek their second ever MEAC championship title in their fifth MEAC championship appearance to date.