Hawks MEAC run comes to an end in semis
NORFOLK, Virginia -
The University of Maryland Eastern Shore used an upset of No. 4 Hampton to advance to the Mid-Eastern Conference semifinals, but the story for the Hawks unfortunately ended there.
Eastern Shore (14-20) dropped a 79-49 decision to No. 1 seeded North Carolina Central on Friday night to end its season.
“Tonight, I thought North Carolina Central was definitely ready to play,” Hawks head coach Bobby Collins said. “(Levelle Moten) had his guys up. I felt like we were up and ready to play. I want to believe our emotions from the night before took a toll on us. I saw us trying to make a run, trying to make plays, trying to rebound, trying to get back on transition defense and it just wasn’t happening.”
The Hawks shot just 30 percent from the floor and were held to 17 percent from behind the 3-point arc. They were outrebounded 34-23 and turned the ball over 15 times.
The Eagles (24-8) got out to a 14-2 lead with 14:25 left in the first half, before a there was a half hour delay because of a shot clock malfunction.
“They made timely shots,” Collins said. “I guess the shot clock going out really gave us a chance to recover and recoup a little bit and we were able to make a run and get back in the game. But I felt like we could never get control of just the game period.”
The Hawks cut the lead to just two, 21-19, on a layup by Tyler Jones (Atlantic City, New Jersey), but Central quickly pushed it out to a seven-point lead again (28-21) with five minutes to go before the half. That’s when things started to spiral for the Hawks.
“We made the run that we wanted to get. We just didn’t get over the hump that we needed,” senior Bakari Copeland said. “We definitely gave ourselves a chance. We just didn’t capitalize from that point on.”
The Eagles used a 10-0 run to take a 38-21 lead into the half. The lead only got larger form there as they led by as many as 36 points with 6:26 left.
Copeland, a First-Team All-MEAC selection from Decatur, Georgia ended his Hawk career with 15 points, three rebounds and an assist in 34 minutes.
“I told Bakari tonight that he definitely could have been Player of the Year in this league if he had played the way he played the last three games all season,” Collins said. “I thought he was more assertive, he did a lot for our team. We rode him and he made some big plays for us.”
Rivera had seven points, four rebounds and an assist in 17 minutes, while Seylan had four rebounds and four points in nine minutes.
Peck finished with a pair of rebounds in 14 minutes.
“Derrico Peck is a fine young man, a graduate student and fine student and Seylan is another fine student athlete and young man,” Collins said. “I told all four of my seniors that being a good person will take you way further in life than anything else. All four of those young men are great people who will do well in this life.”
Four players reached double digits for North Carolina Central led by MEAC Player of the Year Patrick Cole, who had 21 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
Friday’s game was the 34th of the season for Eastern Shore — the most the program has ever played in one year.
The win against Hampton in the second round was the first time the Hawks had won two games in the tournament since the 1973-74 season.
“I’m proud of this year’s team for what we accomplished,” Collins said. “I don’t think anyone in the arena thought we would get here except the guys in that locker room. We fought hard. We found a way. We found some things we can build upon.
It was the Hawks’ first semifinal appearance since the 1993-94 season when the Hawks —under coach Rob Chavez — had a first-round bye, topped Delaware State 91-76 in the quarterfinals and fell to North Carolina A&T 76-73 in the semifinals.
“I can promise you this — we will be back and we will make a noise,” Collins said. “I will not experience this feeling again the way it was tonight. We are going to go out recruiting. We are going to be competitive. We are going to win Championships at Maryland Eastern Shore in the future.”
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