Blair to lead No. 9 seed Lady Bulldogs in tournament
South Carolina State guard Bryeasha Blair, who recently earned Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference postseason basketball honors, will lead the Lady Bulldogs in the MEAC Tournament set for Mar. 5-10 at The Scope in Norfolk, VA.
Coach Doug Robertson’s team, the ninth seed, begins its quest for S.C. State’s first tournament title since 1993 on Tuesday at 11 a.m. against eighth-seeded North Carolina Central.
Blair, a graduate student in her final season with the Lady Bulldogs, was earlier named to the All-MEAC second team. She also reaped MEAC Player of the Week accolades during the season.
The Chicago native led the Lady Bulldogs (11-17 record, 6-10 MEAC) in scoring with 15.4 points per game and was the team’s top point maker in 16 of 28 contests played. One of only two players to score in double figures for S.C. State this season, Blair also paced S.C. State in 3-pointers (46) and three-point percentage (.309).
In addition, the 5-foot-5 guard was second on the team in assists with 42 and fourth in rebounds with 4.2 each outing.
In S.C. State’s home finale Thursday - an 80-78 overtime victory over Savannah State - Blair tossed in 27 points to reach the career 1000-point plateau.
Junior guard Kemoni Jenkins, the only other Lady Bulldog in double figures this season with a 10.1 average, sustained an ankle injury in the win and it’s unclear if she will be ready for Tuesday’s tournament game.
“We know we have a tough challenge ahead, trying to win the MEAC tournament,” said Robertson. “Our task will not be any easier if we don’t have Kemoni (Jenkins), but it’s like all sports, next man/woman up.
“And, that’s what we will be looking for from any of our players who step in for an injured teammate. We need for them to play well, but we just have to wait and see.”
Junior guard Kerry Watson will start in place of Jenkins if the latter is unable to play, according to Robertson.
Since winning its last tournament title in 1993, SC State has made the final just twice – in 2001 when the Lady Bulldogs lost 72-50 to number one seed Delaware State, and in 2010 when Robertson’s team fell 57-46 to top-seeded Hampton.
However, in the 2016 tournament, SC State entered the tournament as a ninth seed – just as this season – and knocked off number eight seed Savannah State and top-seeded Bethune-Cookman before falling in the semifinals to Coppin State, the number four seed.
Robertson and his team are hoping for another deep run, and perhaps a title, this season.
“It’s tournament time,” Robertson said. “Anything can happen.”
No. 10 seed Bulldogs set to play Morgan State
The South Carolina State Bulldogs prepare for their opening game of the 2018 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Tournament Tuesday, when the No. 10 seed Bulldogs take on No. 7 seed Morgan State at the Scope Arena in Norfolk, VA. Tipoff is 9 p.m.
The two teams met earlier this season with S.C. State taking a 74-59 win over Morgan State in Baltimore, Maryland.
Graduate guard Donte Wright and the rest of his fellow senior teammates look to lead the Bulldogs into the quarterfinal round to face Bethune-Cookman with a win over Morgan State Tuesday night.
Wright, the leading scorer for S.C. State with 12.8 ppg, recently reached another milestone in his career, becoming the school’s all-time 3-point leader in a single season with 92 made treys. He recently broke the record held by former All-MEAC performer and 1,000-point scorer Ed Stephens.
In addition to Wright, sophomore forward Damani Applewhite provided solid numbers throughout the regular season with 12.3 points and 6.8 rebounds per outing. Senior guard Patrell Rogers, who recently joined the team from Claflin University in December, made a strong impact upon his arrival with 11.4 ppg.
Senior guard James “J.J.” Richardson provides that extra push in the backcourt with 9.6 points and 28 steals on the season. Junior point guard Jani Raynor-Powell is the floor general dishing out over 100 assist along with 8.2 points and 31 steals.
Since winning its last tournament title in 2003, S.C. State has made the final twice - in 2010 when the Bulldogs lost 68-61 to Morgan State, and 2016 when Garvin’s team fell 81-69 to Hampton.
S.C. State earned its first postseason berth in 12 years in 2016, when it faced Grand Canyon in the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) in Arizona.
However, the Bulldogs fell short of returning to their second-straight MEAC Final last season after an 88-93 overtime loss to Norfolk State in the semifinals at Scope Arena.