Hawks will face N.C. A&T in MEAC Tourney opener, Monday

March 5, 2017

NORFOLK, Virginia - The old adage is that it is hard to beat any one team three times in the same season. The University of Maryland Eastern Shore will test that theory on Monday at 5 p.m., when it faces North Carolina A&T in the opening round of the MEAC Tournament.

The Hawks (12-19, 9-7 MEAC) hold the No. 5 seed in and will face the Aggies (3-28, 1-15 MEAC), the No. 12 seed, for a third time this season, at the Scope in Norfolk Virginia.

The Hawks opened the MEAC season at a blistering pace, shooting 58 percent from the floor (16-for-27 from behind the arc) on the way to a 99-88 win over the Aggies at Corbett Sports Center. Ryan Andino (Fort Lauderdale, Florida) registered a career-high 31 points (9-13 from three). 

In just the second triple-overtime game in Eastern Shore history, the Aggies tied it in the final minute of the first two extra sessions, but the Hawks pulled away in the third OT for a 106- 95 win at the Hytche Center. Bakari Copeland (Decatur, Georgia) finished with a career-high 29 points (6-13, 17-21 FT) and 10 rebounds, and the Hawks shot a staggering 43-for-53 (.811) from the free throw line.

Eastern Shore is no stranger to this situation as it topped Morgan State in both regular season meetings last season only to fall 65-58 to Morgan in the MEAC Tournament.

"We're not taking anybody for granted," Copeland said. "We took Morgan State for granted last year because we beat them twice and we can't let that happen again."

Copeland  a first-team All-MEAC selection  ranks fifth in the MEAC with 17.3 PPG, including 19.4 PPG in league play. He has eclipsed the 20-point mark 10 times (eight in MEAC play), and averages a team-high 6.2 rebounds per game.

Andino leads the MEAC in 3-pointers made with 112 and shoots 38 percent (112-of-295) from outside the arc on the year. He is second on The Shore in scoring at 13.2 points per game.

Sophomore Dontae Caldwell (Santa Ana, California) is third on the team in scoring (9.2 ppg) and second in rebounding (5.4 rpg).

Junior guard Eliel Gonzalez was a Hawk killer in both matchups against Eastern Shore this season. The Puerto Rican national notched his two highest-scoring games of the season against the Hawks, pouring in 21 points in Greensboro on Jan. 9 and notching 23 points in 53 minutes on Feb. 20 in Princess Anne. Gonzalez is shooting .405 from three (ninth) and .825 from the line (fourth) in MEAC play.

North Carolina A&T hopes to rediscover its mojo in the MEAC Tournament. The Aggies hold a record 16 tournament championships with their last title coming as a seventh seed in 2013. Despite losing 22 in a row at one point during the season, N.C. A&T enters postseason play on a high note after a stunning 68-63 win over regular season MEAC champions N.C. Central, their only win against Division I competition this season.

The Hawks have lost their first game of the MEAC Tournament each of the last five years. The last MEAC Tournament victory came, 87-85, aaginst Florida A&M on March 8, 2011, at Joel Coliseum in Winston Salem, North Carolina.

Games can be heard locally on Fox Sports Radio 960 AM WTGM or on www.EasternShoreHawks.com. Will DeBoer will have the call Monday from The Scope on The Shore Sports Network.



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