Chris McEachin’s first Battle of the Bay game was an epic failure: he missed all six of his shots from the field and went scoreless.
His last Battle of the Bay game was just plain epic.
With Norfolk State star center Kyle O’Quinn pinned in by double teams, the Spartans needed someone to heat up from the perimeter and McEachin did.
The 6-foot-6 senior, who transferred to Norfolk State from Radford to play his last two seasons, scored a career-high 27 points as the Spartans beat Hampton 70-62 in front of a raucous sellout crowd of 6,191 Saturday night at Echols Hall.
The Spartans maintained their hold on first place in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, improving to 18-8 overall and 10-2 in league play. And they continued to stretch their school record for victories as a Division I program.
Meanwhile, Savannah State stayed hot, winning at North Carolina Central to improve to 15-10 overall and 8-2 in the conference. The Tigers have won seven straight and 10 of their last 11 and remain tied with the Spartans in the loss column.
O’Quinn had yet another strong night, finishing with 18 points, 18 rebounds and four blocked shots. But it was clear he needed help in this one.
“Hampton threw that stretched-out zone at us in the early going and we had a bit of a problem figuring it out,” O’Quinn said. “But once Chris knocked a few down and got us going, we rolled.”
They also swept the regular-season series, coupling this outcome with an 80-75 victory at Hampton three weeks ago. The Spartans, who have four MEAC games remaining, will play their last home conference game Wednesday when they host Delaware State, a team the Spartans have not beaten since 2009.
“It will be a huge game for us,” he said.
So was this one. Playing in front of a crowd that bordered on frenzied most of the night, the Spartans shut down one of the league’s pure scorers, limiting Hampton guard Darrion Pellum to 10 points on 4-for-17 shooting from the field. Pellum’s night ended prematurely as he was given a pair of technical fouls with 11.9 seconds left, meaning he must sit out the Pirates’ next game.
It was McEachin, who was an All-Tidewater first-teamer while at Norview High in Norfolk, who turned in a Pellum-like line. McEachin went 8 for 16 from the field, 5 for 7 from beyond the arc and made all six free-throw attempts. He also had five rebounds, three steals and a lone turnover in 38 minutes.
Read more at Hampton Roads