|Adrien Coleman and Bethune-Cookman face a tough task against Norfolk State.|
When Norfolk State takes the floor against Bethune-Cookman Wednesday afternoon, it will look to come full circle from last year’s magic ride. NSU entered last season’s tournament in Winston-Salem as a team with something to prove. They had solid regular season, but fell just short of the regular season title and hadn’t won MEAC Tournament since entering the league in 1996. They overcame that hurdle, and the rest, is history.
For now, though, coach Anthony Evans and his team are focused on task at hand, which isn’t an easy one: stopping Bethune-Cookman’s Adrien Coleman.
Coleman, the conference’s leading scorer, scored 22 of his 28 points in the second half as Bethune-Cookman eased past Coppin State for a 89-78 win. The Nebraska transfer has been a one-man show for BCU, averaging 17.6 points and 7.1 rebounds per game in the regular season.
BCU (13-19, 7-9) will need another big game from Coleman on Wednesday, as NSU comes in on a 15-game winning streak, including a 62-61 win over BCU in Norfolk on March 2. BCC led for much of the first half, before a Jamal Fuentes putback and a Malcolm Hawkins free-throw gave NSU its slim margin of victory.
There is little doubt that Norfolk State (21-10, 16-0) has the better team. They have the conference’s player of the year in Pendarvis Williams, the coach of the year in Evans and a solid front line featuring freshman Rashid Gaston and junior Brandon Goode. But a scorer like Coleman can be lethal when hot, and he only scored 12 points in the teams’ regular season matchup. Good luck keeping him that low again.
Still, Norfolk State has too much going for it to pick against them. The Spartans are 11-0 at home, and while the tournament is technically being played off campus at the Norfolk Scope, this is definitely a home game for them. If NSU plays like they should, pencil them in for the semifinals on Friday.