Hawks pull away from UMBC in 2nd half
PRINCESS ANNE, Maryland -
The University of Maryland Eastern Shore entered Thursday’s battle with University of Maryland, Baltimore County needing to take a few steps forward in its evolution with the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference portion of the schedule quickly approaching.
With a near full complement of player for the first time in what feels like ages and the spark of a change to the starting five, the Hawks pushed out to an early lead and used a smothering second-half defensive effort to pull away to a 66-43 win.
“I was proud of them.” Head coach Fred Batchelor said. “I’m happy for them, because they work hard, they responded and they needed this win badly.”
Junior Ciani Byrom (Winston-Salem, North Carolina) returned to the starting lineup for the first time since Jan. 9, 2017 and classmate Keyera Eaton joined her in the starting backcourt in her first start of the season.
And Eaton looked comfortable from the start scoring eight points in the first quarter including 2-of-3 form behind the arc and grabbed three rebounds in seven minutes to help the Hawks to a 24-17 first-quarter lead.
As the Hawks inched toward the half, they held a 34-21 lead with two minutes left in the second quarter. But the Retrievers cut the lead to seven before the break bringing to mind the inability to close out the Mountaineers on Tuesday (Dec. 19).
“We talked about continuing to be aggressive,” Batchelor said. “But we didn’t talk a whole lot. After coming out of the game on Tuesday, we did things a little different than we normally do. We focused on us and we talked about accountability. I think making the change in the starting lineup gave us a boost and I thought we got tired and started making some mistakes with fatigue which led to us not capitalizing off of what we should have been.”
The two teams had played the second quarter dead even 10-10 and The Shore needed to start the second half by taking control.
Freshman Bairesha Gill-Miles (Lexington, Kentucky) was the key to the third scoring eight points, while Martha Thompson (Bedford Heights, Ohio) added all six of her points in that period and the Hawks held the UMBC to 2-of-9 from the field for five points while outrebounding them 11-6.
“I thought they struggled against our zone,” Batchelor said. “They really get in a rhythm in their offense. They came out and they hit three 3s in a row and then we played zone. We had a matchup issue when their big girl didn’t play and it forced Tori to have to guard a shooter. We played the zone good as far as bumping, getting to different places and communicating.”
Gill-Miles was outstanding again with a game-high 19 points to go with nine rebounds, three assists and a pair of steals in 28 minutes. She aggressively hit the glass and played strong defense setting the tone for the rest of the team.
“She is a special kid,” Batchelor said. “The tip in she had in transition, I haven’t seen that since April McBride, so that was flashbacks coming from a freshman. She can be a special kid. The thing is for her to continue to allow us to coach her, because she’s still a freshman. I have to say thus far she has really accepted being coached and I think it is going to make her a lot better and a lot tougher and I think she is going to grow up a lot quicker this year if she does that.”
Senior Tori Morris (Herndon, Virginia) flirted with a double-double finishing with nine rebounds, eight points, two assists and a steal.
Eaton finished the game with 16 points eight rebounds, two assists and a steal. She was 4-of-5 from 3-point range. Byrom scored seven points and Jordyn Smith (Durham, North Carolina) grabbed seven boards.
The Hawks dominated the paint outscoring the Retrievers 32-4 and won the rebounding battle 45-26. The 45 rebounds were a season high for Eastern Shore, which also capitalized for 17 points off 20 UMBC turnovers.
As the team looks ahead to a road contest at East Carolina — their last nonconference tilt — Batchelor is hoping for a quick evolution and dates at Morgan State (Jan. 3) and at home against Hampton (Jan. 6) are fast approaching.
“Our chemistry on the floor still has to improve,” he said. “Conference time is right around the corner, so we don’t have a whole lot of time to get ready and we have the toughest teams right off the bat that are playing really good basketball.”
For more information on Eastern Shore Athletics visit http://www.easternshorehawks.com/.
- Men's Sports
- Women's Sports
- FAN ZONE
- DONATE NOW
- Business Accessories
- Decals/Magnets & Auto
- Duffles & Totes
- Everyday Essentials
- Flags & Wall Decals
- Gifts, Food & Accessories
- Hunting & Fishing