Hawks can’t get by Morgan State in MEAC Tourney
NORFOLK, Virginia -
The University of Maryland Eastern Shore saw Morgan State for the third time this season on Tuesday night at the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Tournament. In two previous meetings during the regular season, the Hawks had prevailed.
But this time Maryland Eastern Shore (10-22) faded down the stretch as the Bears (9-21) built their biggest lead of the game — seven points — in the closing minutes to win 65-58.
The victory advanced MSU to the quarterfinal round on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at top-seeded Hampton.
“They made the plays down the stretch to win the game,” Hawks coach Bobby Collins said. “But at their place we made the plays to win the game. Today we just didn’t make those plays. We just didn’t make the defensive stops that we needed to win this game today.
Maryland Eastern Shore jockeyed with Morgan for the first 16 minutes of the game with neither team taking more than a three-point lead. A flurry of scoring by the Hawks including layups from Derrico Peck (Atlanta, Georgia) and Dominique Elliott (Savannah Georgia) and a 3-pointer by Ryan Andino (Fort Lauderdale, Florida) capped the nine-point run and pushed the lead to 31-22 with 3:22 left in the half.
“We had a nine-point lead and we didn’t put our foot down and put them away and finish out the half strong,” Collins said. “Instead, they made the little mini run and they kind of fed off it. I heard them saying when they were going into the locker room ‘we’re right where we want to be.’ They had confidence going into the second half.”
The Hawks got the ball inside frequently in the first half similar to what they did on the road at Morgan State last week. With the ball playing through Elliott, he was able to put up 14 points and five rebounds.
The Hawks also held the advantage in the paint 24-16 and a 21-14 lead on the boards at the break.
But after the half, Morgan State rallied to erase the six-point deficit and took the lead on a layup by Clive Vaughn.
The Hawks worked to get the ball inside, but Todd Bozeman’s squad packed it in after the half determined not to beaten on the inside.
“They game-planned to keep it out of the inside,” Elliott said. “It was kind of crowded (in the lane) and they were sending double teams and stuff like that. I felt like it was kind of crowded, but I did what I had to do kicking it out when I was getting doubled.
“They made their adjustment and they really got us out of whatever we were trying to run. The plan was to get it inside out and they made and adjustment and they made plays.”
The game was back and forth with neither team taking more than a two-point lead until the 5:33 mark when a Devin Martin (Baltimore, Maryland) reverse layup made it 56-53.
But the Hawks turned it over on four straight possessions and went 1-of-5 from the field in the last five and a half minutes as Morgan State outscored UMES 12-2 to close out the game.
It was the final game in a Hawks uniform for co-captains Elliott and Martin.
Elliott finished with 20 points on 9-of-16 shooting and added nine rebounds.
“I had a phenomenal career at UMES and coach not only taught me about basketball, but he taught be how to be a better person on and off the court,” Elliott said. “I’m going to take that with me into the real world. I’m thankful to have the coaching staff I have had.”
Martin was limited by a leg injury, but finished his career with seven points and five rebounds on 3-of-9 shooting.
“I thought he played well,” Collins said. “He hadn’t played in two weeks. He played well and it didn’t stop us from doing anything we wanted to do. He defended. I thought he did a decent job of rebounding. That’s not the typical Devin because he only had nine shots too. But I told him he didn’t need to come in and be the star. All he had to do was just fit into what we were doing because we were on a two-game winning streak and had a pretty good rhythm in place.”
Junior Bakari Copeland had 13 points and 10 rebounds.
“I told my young men that champions don’t make excuses,” Collins said. “I told them that this loss doesn’t define who we are. Lets keep working, keep getting better and it’s going to pay off.
“We are going to win a championship her at University of Maryland Eastern Shore.”
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