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This week in the MEAC: Howard, Bethune-Cookman lead the way early, South Carolina State improving

Plus, last year’s conference champion North Carolina A&T has won just two games (including a loss to a Division II program), a 1,000-point milestone in the making and weekly conference honors.

NCAA Basketball: Bethune-Cookman at Washington
Co-champions in the 2017-18 regular season, Bethune-Cookman is angling for its first tournament championship since 1984. | EDITOR’S NOTE: At Swish Appeal, we prefer to feature the players we cover as the lead art for our articles, since they are the ones who make the game come alive in any given season. Unfortunately, these photos are not always available, leaving us to make do with what is available. Sometimes, all that is available is a photo of a mascot, an arena, cheerleaders or a men’s team — evidence of pervasive problems in women’s sports coverage that we at Swish Appeal would prefer to see addressed.
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Last season, the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference saw a season-long battle between the North Carolina A&T Aggies and the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats end in both teams being named regular season co-champions. While A&T eventually defeated the three-seed Hampton, not the Wildcats, in the MEAC Tournament championship, the preseason No. 1 Aggies are having a hard time following up on their 23-9 season — their most recent loss in their 2-6 record was to Division II Johnson C. Smith, their first loss to a D-II program since 2000.

The Aggies’ struggles have opened the door for three programs to lead the way in the MEAC early on: the Howard Lady Bison (preseason No. 4), Bethune-Cookman (preseason No. 2) and the South Carolina State Bulldogs (preseason No. 11).

Howard saw a three-game winning streak come to an end in a 67-60 loss at Richmond on Saturday, with the Spiders outscoring the Bison 25-13 in the fourth quarter to take the lead for good. Earlier today, the Bison saw another big lead get away against Campbell, allowing the Fighting Camels to come back from a 14-4 first-quarter deficit and force overtime. But the Bison prevailed in the extra period, winning 69-64. Junior forward Star Fitzgerald-Greer led the Bison over Campbell with a career-high 18 points, while junior guard and team leading scorer Sarah Edmond added 16 points. Sophomore guard Jayla Thornton and freshman forward Krislyn Marsh are also averaging double figures in scoring for a Bison team ranked second in the MEAC in points per game.

Last season’s regular-season co-champion Bethune-Cookman, who share their 5-3 record at the top of the conference with Howard, have been alternating wins and losses this season following a pair of victories to start the season. In Sunday’s win over Flagler, the Wildcats used a strong first half to power over the Saints, led by senior guard Angel Golden’s 28 points. Golden, the team’s leading scorer at 20.3 points per game and the MEAC Preseason Player of the Year, is now just 10 points away from 1,000 on her career, and will have a chance to hit the milestone Saturday.

Although South Carolina State had a similar (yet slightly worse) record at this point last season, they already have something they didn’t get until the end of 2017-18: an active three-game winning streak. Their most recent win came over UNLV, where the team’s top three scorersTaylor Brown, Kemoni Jenkins and Rhein Beamon — each had 12 points. The Bulldogs now have over a week off, having just played five games in eleven days, before traveling to compete in the Myrtle Beach Classic starting next Wednesday, Dec. 19.

MEAC games of the week

Howard Lady Bison (6-3) at Florida International Panthers (2-7)

When: Saturday, Dec. 15 at 2 p.m. ET

Where: Ocean Bank Convocation Center, Miami, FL

How to tune in:

Bethune-Cookman Wildcats (5-3) vs. North Florida Lady Ospreys (4-3)

When: Saturday, Dec. 15 at 3 p.m. ET

Where: Moore Gymnasium, Dayton Beach, FL

How to tune in: Cateye Network

Elsewhere in the MEAC:

  • This week’s Co-Players of the Week honors went to Delaware State senior forward NaJai Pollard and South Carolina State junior forward Taylor Brown. Pollard shot 62.5 percent from the floor and averaged 22.5 points and 10.5 rebounds in the Hornets’ 1-1 outing last week, while Brown also shot 62.5 percent in the Bulldogs’ 2-0 effort over the past week.
  • Bethune-Cookman swept Rookie of the Week and Defensive Player of the Week, with freshman guard Camary Harris and senior forward Chasimmie Brown winning the honors, respectively.
  • In last night’s action, North Carolina Central beat UNC Greensboro 66-57 for their first win of the season, while Norfolk State routed Longwood behind four players scoring in double figures, 74-42.
  • Coppin State, which has yet to win a game this season, had the tall task of playing at No. 13 Minnesota last night, where they lost 84-52. The Eagles play Niagara on Saturday before taking part in the Hilton Garden Inn FGCU Classic next week.

MEAC schedule and results