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Women's basketball cruises past Hampton in NCAA tourney

March 23, 2014

No. 5 MSU used one of its best offensive performances of the season to cruise to an easy victory over the No. 12 Hampton Lady Pirates, 91-61, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at Carmichael Arena in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Photo by Robert Bondy | The State News

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — No. 5 MSU used one of its best offensive performances of the season to cruise to an easy victory over the No. 12 Hampton Lady Pirates, 91-61, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at Carmichael Arena in Chapel Hill, N.C.

After trailing 6-5 only 3:29 into the game, MSU reeled off a 25-4 run to blow the game open and led by more than 30 at halftime.

“Tonight, we were all clicking together,” senior guard Klarissa Bell said of MSU’s play, who led by as many 43. “We were just all working and making the extra pass, and we were making shots tonight, which is huge for us when we’re making shots. I think everybody’s moral is just up and we're feeling good.”

With the win, MSU will play the winner of the No. 4 North Carolina-No. 13 Tennessee-Martin game on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the second round of the tournament.

Five Spartans finished with double-digit point totals, including redshirt freshman guard Aerial Powers, who led the team with 26 points. Powers recorded a double-double in the first half, also finishing with 18 rebounds and 2 assists.

Senior forward Annalise Pickrel also had a solid outing, matching a career high of 21 points.

Powers and Pickrel together outscored Hampton’s whole team in the first half, with 29 combined points.

MSU cooled off in the second half, turning the ball over 14 times and Hampton outscoring MSU 39-37 in the final 20 minutes, but the first half was too much to overcome.

Hampton head coach David Six said he felt his Lady Pirates came out with the mindset that they wanted to do it all by themselves, straying away from their regular sets, creating a hole too big to climb out of.

“We let our emotions get the best of us, a lot of one-on-one play at the beginning of the game,” Six said. “The one-on-one play got us off to a slow start.

As a team MSU shot 52 percent from the field, but holding Hampton to about 28 percent was the key stat of the day. Pickrel said MSU’s long preparation for the matchup was big in creating such an overwhelming defensive effort.

“We had about two weeks (or so) to prepare for them, so we knew their sets backwards and forwards and their plays and everything and personal,” Pickrel said. 

MSU was able to hold Hampton’s season leading scorer, freshman guard Malia Tate-DeFreitas, to only four points and 1-15 from the field.

Following the game, head coach Suzy Merchant was pleased with her team’s performance, but pointed out it is only the first step in the journey.

“The slate is clean and we got to move forward,” Merchant said. “You’re never as good as your last performance, you’re only as good as your next one.”

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