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MEAC Tournament Update: Bethune-Cookman and South Carolina State move into the quarterfinals

The Wildcats and Bulldogs ride their way right into visits with the top seeds.

NCAA Basketball: South Carolina State at St. Mary's Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The second day of the opening round games of the MEAC tournament began with the ninth-seeded Bethune-Cookman Wildcats topping the Delaware State Hornets, 69-62.

The Wildcats trailed by a deuce coming out of the locker room, and they raced out to 41-32 lead by going on a 14-3 run over the first six and a half minutes of the second half. Bethune-Cookman had three players carrying the load, scoring in double-figures and in constant attack mode through the course of the game. Paced by 21 points and nine rebounds from Brandon Tab, the Wildcats seized control as they built their largest lead to 10 points.

Delaware State found a spark after trailing 48-38 with under nine minutes in regulation. Using their own run of 12-2, the Hornets tied the game at 50 at the five minute mark, just to give up a 6-0 run they could not recover from. Delaware State’s front court of DeVaughn Mallory (15 points, nine rebounds) and Mrdjan Gasevic (13 points, eight rebounds) kept the Hornets within striking distance, but the lack of production from the backcourt would plague their hopes of advancing.

Bethune-Cookman’s efficiency from the charity stripe (23-27), including 8-8 from Brandon Tab and 6-6 from Reggie Baker (20 points) closed the game out for the Wildcats. Diamante Lewis also had a huge night for the Wildcats by scoring 19 points with eight rebounds.

No. 8 seed Bethune-Cookman will face the top-seeded NC Central Eagles in the quarterfinals Wednesday, March 8 at 6 p.m. (EST).

The night cap featured the No. 7 South Carolina State Bulldogs versus No. 10 Florida A&M Rattlers. This one needed extra time to be settled as both teams matched runs all night, with the Bulldogs prevailing 82-78 in overtime.

Each team used their particular style of play without deferring to changes, deficits, or matchups. The Bulldogs were dynamic from behind the arc, shooting 50 percent on a 13-26 shooting display. On the other hand, Florida A&M relied on creating turnovers and getting to the foul line. The Rattlers scored 28 points off of turnovers and made 24 free throws, more than South Carolina State’s 20 attempted.

South Carolina State lead for nearly 90 percent of the contest, including 34-30 at the half. They also lead for 18 minutes of the second half until Florida A&M got its first lead late in the second frame at 68-67.

The Bulldogs quickly regained a 69-68 lead with a chance to increase it to three, but Tashombe Riley missed a putback that led to a foul. The ensuing free throw tied the game at 69 with 20 seconds remaining in regulation. Florida A&M would sink two more free throws but Eric Eaves was fouled with two seconds, and sent the game to overtime.

South Carolina State fell behind 76-71 before going on an 11-0 run to advance to the quarterfinals. Edwards Stephens led the Bulldogs with 24 points and Greg Mortimer was instrumental with 20 points and six assists.

Florida A&M was paced by Desmond Williams stat-stuffer line of 23 points, five rebounds, four assists, and three steals.

No. 7 South Carolina State will face No. 2 Norfolk State Spartans Wednesday, March 8 at 8 p.m. (EST).