Hawks win streak stopped at one with loss to Akron
EL PASO, Texas -
The Hawks (2-12) made sure they were remembered at the Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational with a spot in the title game on Thursday night, but the programs first tournament title since 1979 wasn’t to be.
The Shore fell behind 34-30 by the half against Akron (10-3) and the Zips continued to pull away in the second half coming away with a 76-60 win and the Championship.
“That was a good basketball team we came up against tonight,” Hawks coach Bobby Collins said. “They shot the ball well and we weren’t as focused as we were (against UTEP). We’re trying to put two games together and we have to learn how to do that before we can win a tournament. We gave our best effort. My hat goes off to Akron a very sold veteran basketball team.”
Dontae Caldwell (Santa Ana, California) led the Hawks with a season-high 17 points and seven rebounds. Following the game, he was awarded the Don Haskins Award. The honor was created in memory of Haskins and is given to “the player who best exemplifies the characteristics most valued by coach Haskins.”
Caldwell finished the two-game event with 30 points on 13-of-31 shooting (4-of-14 from 3), 16 rebounds, 4 assists, a block, two steals and just three turnovers.
“It’s a huge honor because Glory Road (based on Haskins’ 1966 NCAA Champions) is my favorite movie,” Caldwell said. “It’s kind of funny. I just came in here trying to play as hard as I can to get a win.”
The play of the sophomore guard/forward has been steadily improving throughout the season and his confidence seems to be at a high point lately.
“I’m just not thinking as much,” he said. “I’m just trying to do what I am able to do and it is working out. I’m trying not to think, just play out of instinct and do what I can to help the team as much as I can.”
Bakari Copeland (Decatur, Georgia) followed up his 27-point performance against UTEP with 15 points and three rebounds to earn All-Tournament Team Honors. He started the game off strong scoring a quick nine points in seven minutes, but then went more than 22 minutes of the clock without scoring.
“I thought Bakari was a step slow tonight,” Collins said. “He wasn’t on his toes and he didn’t have that eye of the tiger that I know that he had (Wednesday). Even though he scored 15 points, I thought he could have had 25 or 30. It was his kind of game.”
The Shore actually jumped out quickly leading by 8 points (18-10) as late as the 13:10 mark of the first half, but the Zips just chipped away. Akron took the lead 23-20 with 7:56 to go in the first half and never gave it up. The advantage reached as many as 20 points in the second half.
Akron shot 53 percent from the field and made 10-of-27 from behind the arc. Five different players reached double digits in points for the Zips with Isiah Johnson (All-Tournament) posting a double-double 15 points and 13 rebounds. Antino Jackson (MVP) and Jimond Ivey chipped in 13 points each.
“I thought we weren’t on our toes,” Collins said. “We didn’t get loose ball or 50-50 balls. They outrebounded us by 20 and that was the game. We told them that transition defense and locating their 3-point shooters in transition was the key. All five guys on the floor can shot the 3. It’s a tough team to guard and they did a very good job of picking us apart.
“And we weren’t as sharp offensively as we were (Wednesday).”
The Hawks lost the battle on the boards 45-20 and had just seven rebounds in the second half. The Shore did turn the ball over just eight times, marking the fourth time this season with single-digit turnovers.
Eastern Shore will have a break for the holidays and return to the court Jan. 2, at 6 p.m., when it hosts University of Valley Forge a National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) Division II opponent in its third year of provisional membership in NCAA Division III.
Games can be heard locally on Fox Sports Radio 960 AM WTGM or on www.EasternShoreHawks.com. Will DeBoer and David Byrd will have the call Jan. 2 from the William P. Hytche Athletic Center on The Shore Sports Network.
Season tickets for the 2016-2017 season are on sale now starting at just $125, for all men’s and women’s home games. Did you know that a purchasing a season ticket helps all sports at Maryland Eastern Shore, not just basketball? To purchase season tickets, click here. For more information about the 1ticKet Drive, log on to the web at easternshorehawks.com or call 410-651-6499. It’s time to show your #HawkPride!
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