- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 10, 2002

RICHMOND It was only two weeks ago that Howard ended Hampton's hopes for an unbeaten season in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, stunning the then-16-0 Pirates by one point at Burr Gymnasium.
Yesterday, Hampton made sure the Bison didn't take away another goal, beating Howard 80-62 to win its second straight MEAC tournament and earn another chance to do dramatic things as an NCAA tournament underdog.
The Pirates (26-6) got 19 points from Tommy Adams and 15 from Mackel Purvis in avenging their only loss in 18 regular-season conference games.
And they made history in the process, becoming the first team to earn a return to the NCAA tournament a year after winning as a No. 15 seed.
"Last year had been done before," coach Steve Merfeld said of the 58-57 victory against No. 2 seed Iowa State. "I couldn't be any prouder."
The Pirates won this one be riding the 3-point shooting of Tommy Adams in the first half, and the strong back of Dwayne McNeal after the break.
Adams hit all four of his 3-pointers in the first 12:04 and had 15 points by halftime. McNeal had 11 of his 13 in the first 6 minutes of the second half, when the Bison went to a trapping defense to slow Adams down.
Isaac Jefferson, who had seven points, 12 rebounds and five assists, said the interior focus wasn't planned but kept proving fruitful.
"It just happened that way," he said. "We got organized, and it was his night. He was finishing, so we had to just keep going to him."
The change in focus made it near impossible for the Bison to stop both, and coach Frankie Allen credited the Pirates for choosing right.


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