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Hampton seeks to capture some momentum as regular season winds down with home finale

The Hampton men’s basketball team split its slate of games last week, beating Campbell on Thursday before losing to Northeastern on Saturday. The 72-68 win over the Camels gave the Pirates their first set of consecutive wins since they beat Virginia University Lynchburg and Mary Baldwin in December.

“They were able to put together a good 40 minutes of basketball,” Hampton head coach Buck Joyner said. “And then some things have to go your way and we had a few things go our way.”

Hampton had four of its starters finish in double digits in the win against Campbell. Guards Jordan Nesbitt and Tedrick Wilcox led the team with 21 and 14 points, respectively.

“We were hoping at some point it would happen,” Joyner said of the duo’s success. “Moreso, Tedrick has had some shooting games throughout the year, but it hasn’t been as consistent. And again, Jordan trying to find his footing with the 3, 4, 5 new ball players out there that he’s playing around with him getting a late start. So again, it was another thing that we were happy about, we think down the stretch we can hopefully use it to our advantage as long as they continue to make shots and be aggressive.”

Star forward Kyrese Mullen missed both the Campbell game and the Northeastern game with a shoulder injury that caused him to miss some time earlier in the month. Joyner said his status will be “game by game” moving forward.

In his absence, Ja’Von Benson has stepped up in the Pirates’ frontcourt, logging two double-doubles last week, including a career-high 14 rebounds against Campbell and a career-high 18 points against Northeastern.

“This is a big league, so we knew Ja’Von (had) a big body and athleticism, but we knew he was lacking experience,” Joyner said. “So for him being able to get the minutes that we’ve been able to give him and to see him grow and mature, we’re happy for him. Hopefully, it weighs well for us in the next two ballgames and then going into the tournament.”

Hampton plays its final home game of the season at 7 p.m. Thursday against Monmouth. Joyner said the Pirates will honor Joshua Lusane and Wilcox on Senior Night. Both Lusane and Wilcox have spent just one season with the Pirates after coming to Hampton as graduate transfers. Lusane came to Hampton after four years at Campbell. Wilcox spent two years at St. Francis Brooklyn after starting his career at Dominican College.

“Both have played big parts for us,” Joyner said. “Tedrick has started in pretty much every game for this season, I think, or close to it. Josh has started some, but played a lot of minutes for us. With us making this transition and the way we’re going, they were huge in us being able to try to put together the pieces that we needed to continue to build for this league. Sad part about it is they’re one-year guys, but at the end of the day, we’re happy that they came and were able to contribute to what we were trying to do.”

Hampton lost the first meeting with Monmouth 85-77 on the road in January. Graduate guard Xander Rice led the Hawks with 25 points. Joyner said stopping Rice, who is No. 3 in the CAA and No. 18 in the country with 20.7 points per game, will be a key to earning a victory.

“You got to pay attention to him,” Joyner said. “He’s the engine that makes them go. They have more players that do certain things, they’re having a good year, they have a good team, but the one thing you got to try to do is contain Rice.”

Michael Sauls, (757) 803-5774, michael.sauls@virginiamedia.com