Defense: Norfolk St. scores two points in final 13 minutes

Updated: March 12, 2005, 10:41 PM ET
Associated Press

RICHMOND, Va. -- LaKesha Wills scored 20 points and Coppin State gained its first NCAA tournament bid in 20 years Saturday, beating Norfolk State 67-43 for the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference championship.

The top-seeded Lady Eagles (23-7), playing in the championship for the first time since 1993, wore down the smaller and weary Spartans (12-18). Eighth-seeded Norfolk State was playing its fourth game in as many days and it showed – they scored just 2 points in the final 13½ minutes.

The Spartans kept it close for a time, using an 8-0 run to get within 42-38 with 15:14 to go, but then the Lady Eagles started pounding the ball inside to Wills and 6-foot-3 Leisel Harry, who scored with ease.

Harry had two baskets and Wills had two three-point plays and two other baskets down low as Coppin State scored 14 points in a row.

That made it 60-41, and the Lady Eagles coasted to their first spot in the NCAA's field of 64 since they moved to Division I two decades ago.

It was Coppin State's eighth straight victory and avenged a 65-57 loss to the Spartans on Jan. 31, one of the Lady Eagles' three MEAC losses.

Wills added 13 rebounds for Coppin State, and Harry had 10 points, eight rebounds, three blocks and two assists. The Lady Eagles outrebounded the Spartans 52-43 and outscored them in the paint 34-12.

Toia Johnson led Norfolk State with 11 points, Areya Walker had 10 and Stefani Williams eight. The Spartans finished 17-for-67 from the field, just 25.4 percent.

The Lady Eagles started miserably, missing 16 of their first 20 shots, but still led 10-7 because the Spartans were just as bad, going 3-for-15.

Coppin State finally got it going with 8½ minutes left when Harry's two free throws sparked a 16-5 run to make it 29-17 with 2:53 left in the half, but Norfolk State rallied to 34-26 by halftime.


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press