NORFOLK, Va. – The Hampton Lady Pirates back court of Dejane James and K’lynn Willis combined for 27 points as they survived a fourth quarter rally from seventh-seeded North Carolina A&T State to win 64-62 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Women’s semifinals.
Both guards, listed at 5-foot-3, came through with stellar performances. James had 16 points, five assists and was 7-of-10 from the foul line. Willis had 11 points off the bench with two steals and was 5-of-5 from the line.
“These two guards, our mighty mites, helped steady us when A&T made their run in the fourth and got us another step closer,” said Hampton University Head Coach David Six.
Hampton (19-12) advances to face top-seeded Bethune-Cookman in the finals scheduled for approximately 3 pm on Saturday. The game will be shown live online at ESPN3.com and tape-delayed later Saturday on ESPNU.
The Aggies, who eliminated Hampton last season en route to winning the MEAC crown, jumped out to a 13-6 lead with two minutes left in the first on a pair of Whitney Martin free throws. Hampton scored the last six points of the quarter as James hit one of two from the line to bring Hampton to 13-12 after one.
The Lady Pirates took the lead, for good, on a Georgianna Gilbeaux jumper with 8:52 left in the half as Hampton held a 14-13 advantage. A pressure defense turned the tide in the second quarter as Hampton forced 17 of 30 North Carolina A&T in the first half. Jephany Brown was a key cog in that coming up with eight steals, a season-high for her, in the first 20 minutes.
A 13-3 run in the third quarter, holding the Aggies to three free throws in the span of 7:07 helped Hampton push the advantage to 45-31 with 25 seconds left on a Shanice Neita layup off a feed from Gilbeaux.
In the fourth, the Aggies didn’t miss a shot from the field going 10-for-10 from the field and hitting both 3-point shots. James scored 12 of her 16 points in the final 10 minutes and hit 5-of-6 from the foul line for Hampton. Her two free throws with 90 seconds left in the game gave Hampton a 59-52 lead. The Aggies scored eight of the next 10 points to trail 61-60 on a pair of Dana Brown free throws with 22 seconds left.
Willis followed with two big free throws with 16 seconds left and Monnazjea Finney-Smith was 1-of-2 with 0.7 seconds left as Hampton knocked off the defending champions.
Gilbeaux and Mikayla Sayle added eight points apiece, while Brown and Finney-Smith chipped in with seven.