NORFOLK, Va., March 7, 2017–Junior Brandon Tabb combined with senior teammates Diamante Lewis and Reggie Baker for 60 points, including all 10 of the Wildcats’ 3-pointers, to lead ninth-seeded Bethune-Cookman University to a slight 69-62 upset over eighth-seeded Delaware State University in the opening round of the 2017 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Men’s Basketball Championship Tuesday afternoon at the Norfolk Scope Arena.
BCU broke a 50-50 tie, scoring six consecutive points featuring a Lewis layup, to pull ahead late. The Wildcats outscored the Hornets 19-12 over the final five minutes and then sealed the victory from the free throw line, going 15-of-16 from the charity stripe over that stretch.
Bethune-Cookman (10-21) avenged an overtime loss to the Hornets in the regular season and have advanced to play top-seeded North Carolina Central University in the quarterfinals on Wednesday at 6 p.m. Delaware State ended its season at 10-22.
The Wildcats made 10 of their first 14 field goals from behind the arc to construct a 44-34 advantage.
The Hornets responded with a 16-6 run to level the score. Freshman Kobe Gantz sank a three-pointer at with 5:11 to finish off the rally that deadlocked the scoreboard at 50-all. However, DSU was held without a field goal for nearly the next four minutes as the Wildcats raced back ahead by 10 (63-53) with a decisive 13-3 run. The Hornets did manage four late field goals in the final 30 seconds, but BCU kept making its free throws to thwart the comeback attempt.
Tabb, who was named Second Team All-MEAC before the tourney, netted a game-high 21 points. He was a perfect 8-for-8 from the charity stripe while tallying nine rebounds and four blocks.
Baker bucketed four 3-pointers on his way to 20 points and Lewis provided 19 points and five assists.
Defensively, sophomore Quentin Forrest led the Wildcats with 11 rebounds.
The Hornets, who entered the tournament leading the league with a 36.6 percent accuracy from three-point distance, struggled from long range to a tune of 21.1-percent (4-of-19) while witnessing the Wildcats drilling 10 treys on 27 tries for 37-percent precision.
DSU had three players score in double figures as well. Sophomore DeVaughn Mallory paced the Hornets with 16 points, senior Mrdjan Gasevic netted 13 points and Gantz finished with 12. Sophomore Devin Morgan, a Third Team All-MEAC selection, was held to just five points.
The showdown featured five ties and six lead changes, including the Hornets leading 29-27 at halftime.