March 5, 2012
By Dan Ryan
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - Bethune-Cookman gave Norfolk State a second chance - and many a third as well - that the Spartans took advantage of for a 51-41 victory over the Lady Wildcats in the opening round of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament Monday afternoon in Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
After dropping an 83-73 decision in the regular season meeting, the Spartans (12-16) outrebounded B-CU 52-28 - including 23 offensive - en route to their first tournament win in five years and a berth in the quarterfinals against top-seed Hampton Wednesday.
B-CU concludes the season 10-19.
In addition to the rebounding woes, B-CU shot 26 percent from the field and could never get that one basket to fall when it was on the verge of pulling even.
"You have to give [NSU Coach Debra Clark] and her players a lot of credit for playing a good game today," B-CU head coach Vanessa Blair said. "They executed their game plan very well. For some reason, we came out a little flat offensively and could never get into a rhythm."
Jalisa Isaac led B-CU with 12 points - all in the second half.
The redshirt senior hit two long jumpers early in the second half, the second closing B-CU within 29-27 with 11:38 remaining.
But the Wildcats scored just one basket in the next six and a half minutes as the Spartans went on a 13-2 run and NSU led by as many as 13 points, 44-31, with 3:55 remaining.
B-CU's defense, paced by Demetria Frank's five steals, helped the Lady Wildcats pull back to 44-38 after two Frank free throws with 2:20 left.
That's as close as it got. B-CU misfired a chance to cut it to a one-possession game and NSU scored on the other end to extend its lead.
It was a promising start when Cleneice Roberts (10 points) hit her first three shots to help give B-CU an early 8-4 lead.
NSU used a 10-0 run to turn an 11-10 deficit into a 20-11 lead with 1:43. Jasmine Elum (nine points) hit a couple of late baskets, including a three-pointer with two seconds left,that helped B-CU close it to 21-16 at halftime.
Rae Corbo was the only Spartan in double figures with her 10 points, but NSU had two players in double figure rebounding led by Rachel Gordon's 16.
The loss marked the final appearance for Frank, who set her fourth B-CU career record by appearing in her 121st game. The five steals gave her a second 100-steal season (102) and 422 for her career. She finishes second on the all-time scoring list with 1,560 points.
Also seeing their final game were Isaac, who finished tied for 8th on the all-time scoring with 938 points and second with 154 three-pointer, Roberts and Elum, who finished seventh in three-pointers with 88.
"Our seniors have really changed the attitude of the program around since I got here," Blair said. "They have worked extremely hard and really expect to win. That's helped us out tremendously with our recruiting. Demetria Frank will go down as one of the best players to ever play here. Cleneice Roberts has battled back through five major knee operations and eight all together and has had a huge impact on our team, and Jalisa Isaac will go down as one of the best 3-point shooters to ever play here. All our seniors are on pace to get their degrees, and Demetria will have her Masters, so we are very proud of what they have accomplished."