NORFOLK, Va. North Carolina Central started the second half on an 11-0 run and never looked back in knocking the Norfolk State men's basketball team out of the MEAC tournament, 68-45, on Friday evening at Scope Arena.
The Spartans attempted just 39 field goals in the tournament's first semifinal game of the night, and the Eagles outscored them by 15 in the second half after leading by single digits the entire first half.
Barring a bid to a postseason tournament, NSU's season came to a close at 19-14. The Spartans fell one win short of their third straight 20-win season.
North Carolina Central (27-5) advanced to the MEAC final on Saturday.
Senior Pendarvis Williams led NSU with 12 points and was the only scorer in double figures for the Spartans. Senior Marese Phelps added nine points, while Brandon Goode, also playing the last game of his career, finished with six points and nine rebounds while tying his career-high with six blocks.
The Spartans shot 16-of-39 (41.0 percent) but committed 14 turnovers compared to just seven for the Eagles. NCCU also had a 32-22 edge on the boards, a 21-2 advantage in points off turnovers and also outscored the Spartans 14-2 in second-chance points.
The Eagles scored the first 11 points of the second half for a 19-point lead before Williams stepped back for a trey from the right wing at 15:03 for NSU's first points out of the locker room. A layup from Karamo Jawara pushed the lead up to 22 nearly the halfway point of the second stanza, and the Eagles went up by as much as 23 in the latter stages of the game.
Neither team could get much going on the offensive end in the early going. Emanuel Chapman got a kind bounce off his 3-point attempt, and senior Anell Alexis hit a turnaround jumper in the lane to tie the score at 9-9 at the 11:50 mark of the first half. Jordan Parks converted a pair of buckets for a four-point NCCU edge, and a little later Williams and Jeremy Ingram traded 3-pointers to keep the spread the same.
Ingram hit another 3-pointer for a 23-16 advantage less than three minutes later, and the Eagles twice stretched the lead to nine. The latter came with 1:50 left when Chapman hit a short floater from the right baseline. NCCU took a 32-24 lead into the half.
Ingram and Parks led NCCU with 14 points each, while Chapman (13 points) and Jawara (11) also reached double figures.
The Eagles also shot 20-of-24 from the free throw line, while the Spartans hit 9-of-14.
Williams, Goode, Phelps, Alexis, Malcolm Hawkins and Riley Maye wrapped up their careers with the program, as NSU's senior class finished with a 78-56 record over the previous four years. It marked the best four-year stretch for Norfolk State since the program went Division I in 1997.
That four-year span included NSU's first ever MEAC Championship in 2012 and subsequent upset of No. 2 seed Missouri in the NCAA tournament. Norfolk State also won the regular season conference title in 2013 at 16-0, becoming just the fourth MEAC school to go undefeated.
Williams finished his career 15th all-time at NSU in scoring with 1,638 points. He is just one of two players all-time at Norfolk State, along with leading scorer Ralph Tally, to compile career totals of 1,600 points, 500 rebounds, 200 assists, 100 steals and 50 blocks.
In addition to ranking in the top 15 in scoring, he also stands first in games played (131), second in 3-point field goals (215), 12th in free throws (339), 13th in steals (135), 15th in assists (265) and 20th in blocks (55).
Goode, meanwhile, ended his NSU career second all-time with 160 blocks despite playing limited minutes in his first two years behind predecessor and all-time record holder Kyle O'Quinn. Goode finished with 667 points and 455 rebounds while shooting nearly 60 percent for his career.
Hawkins totaled 811 points in just two seasons after transferring from Delaware. He also had 212 rebounds, 90 assists, 61 steals and 19 blocks during his two years with the Spartan program. He ranks 13th all-time at NSU with 94 career 3-pointers.
Like Williams and Goode, Maye also was a four-year player for NSU. He had his most productive season by far in his last year while closing out his career with 172 points, 54 rebounds, 14 assists and 13 blocks.
Phelps, a junior college transfer for NSU, scored 189 points during his two-year career to go along with 103 assists, 64 rebounds and 57 steals.
Alexis, a graduate transfer from Marist, averaged 7.5 points and 3.3 rebounds during his only season at NSU.