Hawks set to face off with Bulldogs in MEAC matchup
Jan. 15, 2018

ORANGEBURG, South Carolina — The University of Maryland Eastern Shore went from looking for a much-needed victory to preparing to try for two in a row when they face off with South Carolina State on Monday (Jan. 15).

Hawks coach Fred Batchelor has seen the season playing out to his expectations so far after dealing with several early-season injuries. His squad is now closer to full strength and looking to find the right rotation as Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference play continues.

"I am excited to see how we play after a win," Batchelor said. "I haven't really been surprised with anything that has happened this year. But I didn't anticipate how much of a negative effect it would have on us though. It went according to script and we have now gotten to us getting our first win on the road (and first in the young MEAC season) against a team that record-wise we should have beaten and I think we are facing the same thing Monday."

He said he saw the losses piling up taking a toll on the mental approach the Hawks (3-14, 1-3 MEAC). Now he knows they can take a breath.

"When we get the opportunity to play teams that are not deemed top of the league to get on track, we need to take care of that first," Batchelor said. "That's a great challenge for us and I'm excited about watching us play for 40 minutes. I think that we are going to be a team that is going to have to find ways to win for 40 minutes and I think that is only going to build the character that we need to be successful in the long haul."



The starting lineup has been evolving to that end, with Dominique Walker (Del Air, Maryland) picking up her first start two games ago and then freshman Amanda Carney (Parlin, New Jersey) doing the same at Savannah and slotting in as a starter for the game against the Bulldogs (5-10, 0-3). The bench runs much deeper than is has for a about a year and Batchelor plans to take advantage of that.

"When I put Alexus Hicks (Raleigh, North Carolina) in the game the other day -- who actually won us the game for us -- she wasn't in the rotation," Batchelor said. "It wasn't until one of the players made an undisciplined play that her number was called. So, I can't even take credit for that. Hicks gets all the credit for being called upon and not knowing after only playing four minutes the last game. I'm optimistic that we have a bunch of different weapons that can come in and help us at any given time. I think if you only have eight players and you are only going to play eight players, that puts you in a box. But if you have a kid who can play 20 minutes one night and four the next, when someone else steps up that keeps you kids ready, sharp, motivated and -- I hope -- confident."

Junior Ciani Byrom (Winston-Salem, North Carolina) moved into the scoring lead with 10.7 points per game after another strong game at Savannah State. Freshman Bairesha Gill-Miles (Lexington, Kentucky) is second on the team with 10.5 points per game and leads the team in rebounding with 6.4 per contest. Graduate transfer Jordyn Smith (Durham, North Carolina) is second on the team in rebounding with 5.5 per game and is averaging 7.6 points per game.

But The Shore has seen 10 different players in the starting lineup already this season.

"I can't tell you the starting lineup from one day to the next, and I also want our kids to know that when you work hard you get rewarded," Batchelor said. "That extends to everyone on our team. We still have a few more kids on that bench who are waiting to get their opportunities and I think they will help us."

The Bulldogs are led by Bryeasha Blair, a graduate transfer guard from Central Florida.

"She is a tough transfer and she hurt us last year (in a 67-60 loss) and I think is we were beaten by one kid that it was her," Batchelor said. "She made every big play to win the game. We were playing without some of our best players last year, so I am looking forward to seeing what we are going to do against her with those kids back.

"I think they play a style of basketball that is going to be a challenge for us. I think they go to the glass and get up-and-down the floor. We have to do a better job in defensive transition and then we have to compete on the glass."

For more information on Eastern Shore Athletics visit http://www.easternshorehawks.com/.

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