Twenty-five years ago, North Carolina Central University defeated Southeast Missouri State, 73-46, to capture the school’s first NCAA team national championship. The 27-point margin of victory set a new NCAA championship game record. To this day, it still stands as the NCAA Division II Championship Game record.
“I am excited about honoring one of our most prestigious athletics team in the history of NCCU Athletics,” NCCU Director of Athletics Dr. Ingrid Wicker-McCree said earlier this year as the school honored the team. “The former student-athletes, coaches and staff who will be honored helped to lay the foundation for so many young men and women who have passed through our university. Their legacy will be remembered and celebrated forever.”
“I hope that our current students and student-athletes will understand the impact our 1989 national championship team has on their lives,” Wicker-McCree continued. “Bringing the members of this team back to McDougald-McLendon Gymnasium will give them an opportunity to meet and thank them for garnering national attention and recognition to our great institution.”
The setting for the Eagles to make history took place on March 25, 1989, in the NCAA Division II men’s basketball national championship game in Springfield, Mass.
After defeating Norfolk State (67-64) and Virginia Union (60-55) to win the regional title, the Eagles edged Sacred Heart, 58-57, in the national quarterfinals when Dominique Stephens made the first of two free throws with no time remaining. In the semifinals, NCCU cruised past Jacksonville State, 90-70.
Three Eagles, Miles Clarke, Antoine Sifford and Dominique Stephens, were selected to the NCAA Championship All-Tournament Team, while Clarke earned Tournament Most Outstanding Player honors.
Head coach Michael Bernard was named Coach of the Year by the National Basketball Coaches Association.
As a team, NCCU led the nation (NCAA Division II) in scoring defense (56.0 points allowed per game) and field goal percentage defense (38.9 percent). The Eagles finished the season with a record of 28 wins, 4 losses.
Members of the 1989 national championship team were Charles Alston, Fred “Pop” Bennett, Henry Canty, Miles Clarke, Jeffrey Hayes, Joel Hopkins, Eric Jackson, Derrick Johnson, Derrick Leak, Adrian McKinnon, Marvin “Rat” Reed, Antoine Sifford, Dominique Stephens, Kelrick Thompson, Curtis Watkins, head coach Michael Bernard, assistant coaches Gregory Jackson and Ron Woodard.
Courtesy of North Carolina Central University Athletics