North Carolina Central took control late in the first half Friday and never let up, ousting Norfolk State 68-45 in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament semifinal at Norfolk Scope Arena.
Jeremy Ingram and Jordan Parks scored 14 points apiece for the top-seeded Eagles, who will face Morgan State for the championship at 6 p.m. Saturday on ESPNU.
Morgan State (15-15) defeated Baltimore rival Coppin State 79-64 as the Bears' Justin Black scored a career-high 30 points. Morgan State is in the final for the sixth time in the last eight years.
Ian Chiles added 18 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks for the Bears. Anthony Hubbard had 12 points, nine rebounds and nine assists.
Andre Armstrong led Coppin State (12-20) with 13 points.
Saturday's winner will gain an NCAA tournament berth. If N.C. Central loses, it will earn a National Invitation Tournament bid by virtue of its regular-season championship.
N.C. Central (27-5) led the fourth-seeded Spartans by two with 9:13 left in the first half, then went on a 14-7 run -- including a 3-pointer by Ingram -- for a 32-24 lead at the break.
An 11-0 run at the start of the second half, fueled by Parks' layup and a 3-pointer by Karamo Jawara, propelled N.C. Central's lead to 43-24. The Eagles never trailed by fewer than 16 the rest of the way.
N.C. Central held a huge advantage at the free-throw line, making 20 of 24, compared with 9 of 14 for Norfolk State. Emanuel Chapman had 13 points and Jawara finished with 11.
Pendarvis Williams led NSU (19-14) with 12 points. Brandon Goode had six blocks, nine rebounds and six points.
Briante Weber of Chesapeake provided 18 points and his usual high-energy defense in 18 minutes as VCU beat crosstown rival Richmond for the third time this season, 71-53, to advance to the Atlantic 10 semifinals in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Unlike recently at Robins Center, when the second-seeded and 23rd-ranked Rams trailed the Spiders for most of the game, VCU dominated Friday from the start.
Weber, a Great Bridge High graduate who led the country in steals with 111 during the regular season, came in averaging 9.1 points. The two-time conference Defensive Player of the Year shot 8-for-10 and pulled down five rebounds.
The Rams had 20 offensive boards that turned into 22 second-chance points. Freshman ShawnDre Jones led UR (19-14), a potential National Invitation Tournament team, with 18 points. ...
The Rams (25-7) face George Washington in Saturday's 4 p.m. semifinal. GW (24-7) overcame Massachusetts 85-77, further enhancing the Colonials' already-strong NCAA credentials. Patricio Garino scored 15 points, and teammate Nemanja Mikic came off the bench to add 14. ...
Also in the Atlantic 10 tournament, St. Bonaventure upended top-seeded, 18th-ranked Saint Louis, 71-68 when Jordan Gathers sank a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
The ninth-seeded Bonnies (18-14) had lost four straight before Thursday; now, thanks to a shot by Gathers -- the nephew of the late Hank Gathers, a former Loyola Marymount star who collapsed and died on the court during a game -- they've won two games in two days.
Charlon Kloof had 22 points, nine rebounds and six assists for St. Bonaventure. Mike McCall scored 21 for Saint Louis (26-6), which has lost four of five.
The Bonnies will play a semifinal against St. Joseph's (22-9) which edged Dayton 70-67 in a game between "bubble" teams in the NCAA picture. Langston Galloway sank a go-ahead 3 with 17.9 seconds left and finished with 31 points.
The Flyers (23-10) had won 10 of 11 games, but they are 0-3 against the Hawks.
Host Mary Washington gained its first Elite Eight appearance, edging Virginia Wesleyan 74-70 in a sold-out Fredericksburg gym despite Khory Moore's 30 points for the Marlins.
The Capital Athletic Conference tournament champion Eagles, led by Bradley Riester's 23 points and seven rebounds will play host to Williams (Mass.) on Saturday. Williams beat Albertus Magnus (Conn.) 110-92 in the sectional's first game behind Mike Mayer's 30 points and 16 rebounds.
Mary Washington led by 15 late in the first half, but the second half started with a Marlins 14-3 run that tied the score at 45 with 15:35 left.
A 3-pointer by Moore and layup from Colby Heard gave VWC a five-point cushion with 8:50 to go. But the Eagles scored six points in a row, starting a series of lead changes.
With the score tied at 68 with 1:32 left, UMW took charge. Senior guard Dom Morra connected for a layup and free throw to build the lead to three, and a pair of Taylor Johnson free throws with 17 seconds left pushed the lead to five.
After the Marlins made a pair of free throws, Marcellus Holley made a free throw to put the game out of reach with six seconds left.
Kecoughtan High graduate Josh Fortune and his Providence teammates are one victory from the Big East tournament title. Even if the Friars (22-11) lose, they've made a convincing case with two conference tournament victories at Madison Square Garden.
The latest triumph was Friday's 80-74 semifinal win over Seton Hall, fueled by LaDontae Henton's 26 points and 14 rebounds. Fortune, a sophomore, added eight points and four rebounds, a day after scoring 24 in a 79-74 victory over St. John's.
Providence will face Big East newcomer Creighton, the nation's 14th-ranked team, for the tournament crown Saturday night.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun