NORFOLK — Alyssa Bennett's defense has never been an issue, not with her height, wingspan and athletic ability. But for
Bennett scored 15 points, distributed the ball and played shutdown defense on Norfolk State's ballhandlers, one of the keys in the Lady Pirates' 76-41 rout at Echols Hall.
"My defense is strong, but I think my offense is strong, too," said Bennett, a junior from Hampton. "I can't just play defense. I have to do more at both ends of the floor."
Hampton (15-5, 6-0
Olivia Allen continued her hot shooting, tying her week-old career high with 22 points that included a career-best six 3-pointers. Keiara Avant added 15 points and 10 rebounds, and Nicole Hamilton chipped in with 11 points, eight rebounds and four assists.
"A total team effort," HU coach David Six said. "Everybody made contributions. I thought Bennett was great on defense, and our post players did a good job of countering their post players and doubling down inside. Allen stroked the ball really well. Just a good game."
Bennett was bothered early in the season by a left foot injury that limited her minutes and effectiveness, but said the foot feels fine. The task now is to play more aggressively on offense.
"At times I get passive and I get frustrated with myself," she said. "I just have to play my game and not worry about statistics."
Bennett, at 6-2, made life difficult for Norfolk State point guards Recca Trice (5-6) and Jazamine Gray (5-4). The Lady Spartans never found an offensive rhythm and finished with more turnovers (19) than field goals (16).
"She's like a condor when she guards like that," Six said, spreading his arms wide. "Trice gets into the lane, but 'A.B.' disrupted a lot of what they were trying to do."
The outcome was never in doubt. The Lady Pirates ran out to a 10-point lead in the first seven minutes. A Bennett steal and run-out pushed the margin to 31-10 with 5:16 remaining.
Allen's third 3-pointer of the half extended the lead to 40-16, and the Lady Pirates led 43-20 at halftime. Allen and Bennett had 11 points apiece, and Hamilton and Avant nine each. HU's biggest lead was 72-33 after two Kenia Cole free throws.
HU entered the game shooting a dismal 23 percent from 3-point range, but made 10 of 22 versus Norfolk State.