Mark Dolejs-US PRESSWIRE
Last year's Cinderella will find themselves on the outside looking in during the NCAA tournament this year.
Norfolk State was poised to make it to the NCAA tournament once again this year after going 21-10 in the regular season and 16-0 in conference play. The Spartans march towards the tournament started today in the MEAC quarterfinals against Bethune Cookman.
Playing in a virtual home game at the Norfolk Scope, the Spartans rushed out to a 33-23 lead at the half and looked to cruise into the semifinals for a match up with either Morgan State or Savannah State. But NSU should have known they would be in for a battle after playing Bethune-Cookman less than two weeks ago and winning 62-61 at home.
The eighth seeded Wildcats, who came into the game with a 14-19 mark, kept chipping away the Spartans lead. Things really started to get interesting when Norfolk State went cold and didn't score for almost the last two minutes of regulation.
Adrien Coleman, who lead the Wildcats with 24 points, tied the game up with 1:13 left in regulation and no one would score for the rest of the way.
In overtime, neither team was able to get their scoring touch back. A missed free throw by Norfolk State star Pendarvis Williams with seven seconds left would be the difference. If Williams would have made both his free throws then the game would have been tied.
William's counterpart on Bethune-Cookman, Paul Scotland, went to the line looking to extend the Wildcats lead to three points. Scotland missed the first free throw and Williams had a chance to redeem himself. Unfortunately for Norfolk State Williams missed a jumper with two seconds left and Bethune-Cookman escaped with a 70-68 victory.
From here, North Carolina Central is the likely favorite in the tournament after going 15-1 in MEAC play. Bethune-Cookman will enter the semifinals looking for their first ever NCAA tourney birth.