Players, fans anticipate competitive NSU-Hampton U. basketball game

By Khalida Volou

Who's ready for the annual Battle of the Bay?

Well, Hampton University Pirates are anticipating yet another win against the Norfolk State Spartans. It is evident that this game has become one of the biggest games of the year aside from the "Battle of the Real HU" vs. Howard University and has had huge turnouts for three years in the row.

Students here are ready to take on those Spartans. "You never know what to expect, they both bring it!" said Christiana Cole, a junior Communicative Science and Disorders major from Alexandria, Virginia.

The rivalry between the two universities started out during the football season of 1963. The two schools are separated by the Hampton Roads harbor. Because these two universities are close in proximity it has made this rivalry a friendly one. "The rivalry isn't like the HU versus HU game. Our Norfolk [State] versus Hampton game is friendlier, it is two HBCU's coming together and fighting it out and then we party together," said Cole.

This yearly match up eventually advanced to include basketball season and other sports at both universities. Today, the tournament name "Battle of the Bay" is used when both schools have any athletic competition.

Now that it is basketball season students from both universities are ready to take this rivalry to the next level. "I expect a big crowd, large population from both schools, and definitely a win!" said Hampton U. freshman Sherena Sabla, Communicative Science and Disorders major from Charlotte, North Carolina.

According to the Mid-Eastern Atlantic Conference website the Pirates were the last team to win on this ongoing rivalry. Dating back to the 2012-2013 season the Pirates lost both games that season, then during the 2013-2014 season they regained their standing and won both games. During the 2014-2015 season, the Spartans won two games and the Pirates ended the rivalry strong winning in overtime the final game of that season. Reginald Johnson scored 11 points hitting three 3-points.

The current standing of the Pirates is 11-8 and Norfolk State is 10-12. The Spartans are hungry for this win to move up in the conference before championships. "Last year out of the times that we played Norfolk State it was the hype of Hampton versus Norfolk," said Reginald Johnson, team captain of Hampton U. men's basketball. "This time it's a one verse two, we're No. 1 and they are No. 2. It is going to be a big game as far as atmosphere and actually meaning something for conference."

With Norfolk State having high rankings in stats and Hampton becoming better in winning conferences, what are the odds? "I think it's going to be a close game, it's going to be really tight," said Maurice Williams, Hampton University sports information director.

Students from both universities are putting their hopes on this game, especially Hamptonians. "It is important for us to beat Norfolk," said Johnson, "and it is important for us to stay No. 1 at conference to keep riding out, and so far we have been doing good."

The writer is a student in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.

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