Hawks Ride Second Half Wave for Comeback Over Eagles
Dec. 2, 2017

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Maryland Eastern Shore men's basketball came back from 12 down in the second half, taking the lead in the final minutes to beat American University 74-70 on Saturday afternoon at the Hytche Athletic Center.

"I'm exhausted, but I'm happy. It's a good kind of exhausted," said Hawks head coach Bobby Collins after the win. "We dug down and did some good things. We still have a lot of work to do, but that's a good thing. I'd rather teach a lesson after a win than a loss."

Facing a 45-37 hole at halftime, the Hawks (3-5) let the Eagles (2-5) stretch it all the way to 12 in the early stages of the second half. Back-to-back layups by Larry Motuzis put AU up 55-43 with 14:40 to play.

Eastern Shore hung tough over the next six minutes, whittling the deficit down to four with Tyler Jones' (Atlantic City, New Jersey) jumper at the 9:38 mark. The Eagles pushed the lead back to eight moments later on breakaway layups by Motuzis and Sa'eed Nelson, making it 62-54 with 8:54 to play.

Eight was as big of a lead AU would have the rest of the game, though, as The Shore took over from there. Colen Gaynor (Berlin, Maryland) put himself on the left post for a putback layup and put in another one minute later to get the Hawks within 62-58. Logan McIntosh (Atlanta, Georgia) stripped CB Diallo on the other end, setting the fast break in motion and finding Ahmad Frost (Cincinnati, Ohio) on the left wing for an open three. Frost's trey capped a 7-0 run to make it a 62-61 game at the 6:25 mark.

The teams went back-and-forth for the next three minutes, then Miryne Thomas (Cleveland, Ohio) sank one of two free throws with 3:37 to play to tie it at 67-67. Back on defense, Frost shadowed Motuzis on the perimeter and forced a push off for an offensive foul. The Hawks missed the ensuing shot, but Jones blocked Nelson down low and drew a foul on the attacking end, hitting his first of two foul shots to give Eastern Shore a 68-67 lead - its first since the 10:19 mark of the first half - with 2:16 to go.

Thomas and Frost each hit a pair of free throws to give the Hawks a 72-67 cushion with 42 seconds left. AU gave it one last gasp at the other end as Diallo hit one of two foul shots and Nelson converted a miss into a layup, making it 72-70. Jones then missed two to give the Eagles a chance to tie, but Frost frustrated Nelson and forced a bad shot. Jones got the board and redeemed himself by sinking two with 10 seconds left to ice it.

Jones paced the Hawk offense with 18 points and pulled down seven rebounds, including four on offense. Eastern Shore owned the offensive glass 18-11 on the way to outrebounding the Eagles 40-35.

Thomas notched his first career double-double, scoring 17 points with 10 boards. McIntosh added 13 points with five boards and a game-high six assists. Frost scored 13, including a trio of clutch three-pointers, and largely shut down Eagle star Nelson on defense in the second half.

"He did a great job containing him," said Collins of Frost. "He was giving us an inside presence too. I was unhappy that he had to get his own offensive rebounds, but we needed that down the stretch and I'm very pleased."

Motuzis led the way for American with 24 points, including 15 in the first half. Nelson notched 20 again for AU but was limited to just six in the second half by Frost.

Eastern Shore had one of its best free-throw shooting days of the season, hitting 22-of-29 from the charity stripe, including 8-of-12 from Jones alone.

"We expect Tyler to be a leader," said Collins. "He's a veteran player and he's just a sophomore. How about that?"

The Hawks came out swinging in the first half, taking a 12-2 lead in the first four minutes on a flurry of inside pressure. AU tightened up the screws, though, and turned the game on its head over the rest of the half. A Drew LaMont three cut the lead to one, and a Motuzis fastbreak layup put the Eagles up 22-21 with 10:19 before the break. American kept the foot on the gas, leading by as many as 12 and ultimately taking an eight-point lead into the locker room.

The win gives the Hawks three nonconference triumphs in their first eight games, matching their total from all of last year.

Eastern Shore now hits the road for its next six games, starting on Monday night at Duquesne. Tip from the A.J. Paulmbo Center is set for 7 p.m. Monday's game will be broadcast locally on flagship radio station Fox Sports 960 AM WTGM and online at EasternShoreHawks.com. Pregame coverage starts at 6:45 p.m. with Will DeBoer on the call for The Shore Sports Network.



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