- Associated Press - Saturday, March 11, 2017

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) - Jephany Brown and Mikayla Sayle scored 10 points each and third-seeded Hampton upset No. 1 seed and regular-season champion Bethune-Cookman 52-49 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Tournament championship game on Saturday.

The Lady Pirates (20-12), who finished third in MEAC standings with an 11-5 record and lost by nine points to Bethune-Cookman during the regular season, are going to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2014 and the ninth time overall. It is coach David Six’s sixth MEAC Tournament championship, the first five coming consecutively from 2010-14.

Sayle added eight rebounds and tournament MVP Brown seven rebounds and five steals. Hampton made 15 steals and turned 23 turnovers into 24 points. Monnazjea Finney-Smith made three 3-pointers for her nine points while DeJane James dished five assists for Hampton, which has won six straight games.

Taylor Houston scored 10 points, Ashanti Hunt had eight points and 10 rebounds and Kailyn Williams 14 rebounds for the Wildcats (21-10), who were 15-1 in winning the regular-season crown and had won 12 straight.

Hampton led 22-8 after the first quarter and built its largest lead of 19 points early in the second quarter, taking a 35-23 lead at halftime. The Wildcats scored the first 11 points of the third quarter to get within one but the Lady Pirates clung to a three-point lead entering the final period.

A bucket by Houston tied the game at 44-all with 6:45 to go. Brown responded with a pair of baskets and four free throws by Hampton over the final 3½ minutes were enough to hold off Bethune-Cookman, which was making its first championship appearance since 1992.

Hampton lost three starters to injuries during the season and another, Kayla Lupoe, in Saturday’s game.

“Whew,” Six said. “What else can you say? I think we had a bit of an emotional letdown (after an injury to Lupoe) and that we lost our poise a little … but then Jephany hit two big buckets to kind of break the ice a little.

“Our defense was spectacular all game, and that was the difference.”

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