Hawks looking to upset No. 1 N.C. Central in third meeting
Tyler Jones led the Shore is scoring in a win against Hampton.
March 10, 2017

NORFOLK, Virginia -

The University of Maryland Eastern Shore, having already picked up two wins in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Tournament for the first time since the 1973-74 season, face their next challenge on Friday at 6 p.m. when they face No. 1 seeded North Carolina Central.

The Hawks (14-19) face a tall order in the Eagles, who 23-8 won 13 straight MEAC games en route to their third regular season title in four seasons. Central is the only team during conference play to top the Hawks by double digits and they did it twice.

The Shore fell in Durham, 69-52, on Jan. 11 and then dropped a Homecoming contest to the Eagles, 82-69, on Feb. 18 in Princess Anne.

“I feel like we are a different team than when we played them the at the beginning of the year and even than when we played them a couple weeks ago,” Hawks coach Bobby Collins said. “We were right there. The difference was a couple of player here or there. Since then, we’ve become a different team and we play different. Tyler Jones is playing different for us. He plays more minutes for us now and he plays a major role in what we are doing.”

Jones a freshman from Atlantic City, New Jersey, has stepped up big in the first two wins averaging 17.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, two assists and a block in 20.5 minutes per game. Jones has scored in double digits in five of the last nine games.

“I’ve been telling him all year — he’s been a little impatient sometimes because he’s been playing behind some seniors,” Collins said. “I was really proud of him. I was mostly proud because I told him before the game (against Hampton) that he was going to play well. He did and went out and had a phenomenal night.”


 

 

While Jones’ play has been a surprise to some, First-Team All-MEAC selection Bakari Copeland (Decatur, Georgia) hasn’t snuck up on anyone in the tournament.

The senior ranks fifth in the MEAC with 17.5 PPG, including 19.4 points per game in league play. Copeland has eclipsed the 20-point mark 11 times (eight in MEAC play). He also leads Eastern Shore in rebounding at 6.2 per game.

Ryan Andino (Fort Lauderdale, Florida) is second on the team in scoring at 13.2 points per game, good for Top-20 in the MEAC. As of March 8, he is also second in the NCAA in total three pointers (117) and third in threes per game (3.66). Andino has eclipsed the 20-point threshold seven times this season.

JUCO transfer Logan McIntosh (Atlanta, Georgia) is averaging 8.7 points, 4.5 assists and 3.4 rebounds. Sophomore Dontae Caldwell is second on the team in rebounding at 5.4 per game and adds 8.7 points and 2.4 assists per game.

In the first meeting between the two teams, an early Hawk lead disappeared quickly and the Eagles went up by as much as 20 on the way to a 69-52 win at McDougald-McLendon Arena. Dejuan Graf led both teams with 25 points and nine rebounds. Bakari Copeland scored 13 to lead Eastern Shore.

In the second meeting, Eastern Shore cut a late 19-point deficit to four with 1:41 to play but would get no closer as the Eagles spoiled Homecoming at the Hytche Center 82-69. Patrick Cole registered a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds, along with six assists. Dontae Caldwell posted 19 points and seven rebounds for the Hawks.

When the league announced its postseason awards last week, it was only a formality that Eagle guard Patrick Cole would be named MEAC Player of the Year. The senior from Newark, N.J. ranks third in the league in scoring (19.5), tied for second in rebounding (7.0), and first in assists (5.7). In addition to locking up First-Team All-MEAC honors, Cole earned six MEAC Player of the Week honors this season, scored 32 points in a win at NCAA-bound Northern Kentucky on Nov. 26, and notched NCCU’s first Division I triple-double (14pts, 12rbd, 10ast) in a Nov. 18 win over Jackson State.

Eagles coach LeVelle Moten was selected Coach of the Year after leading the Eagles to a 13-3 record in conference play. He led the team to a 22-8 overall mark, including road wins over the University of Missouri, Northern Kentucky and Western Carolina.

This is 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.

Friday’s game will be the 34th of the season for Eastern Shore — the most the program has ever played in one year.

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

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