Hawks to face Howard, will try again for 2nd victory in a row
PRINCESS ANNE, Maryland -
The University of Maryland Eastern Shore will try again for its second straight win of the season on Saturday (Jan. 27) when it hosts Howard University at 2 p.m. at the William P. Hytche Athletic Center.
The Hawks (5-14, 2-5 MEAC) are coming off an 84-73 home win against North Carolina Central and where they shot over 40 percent from the field for the first time in five contests.
Howard (7-12, 3-3 MEAC) — which likes to get out and run in transition after turnovers and defensive rebounds — is allowing opponents to shoot just 38 percent from the field on the year.
“The biggest thing is that our defensive transition is going to be huge,” head coach Fred Batchelor said. “And we can’t continue to put our defense in a bad situation by not scoring and not finishing plays.
“If we shoot a decent percentage it’s going to allow us to defend a lot better.”
Against the Eagles, The Shore managed at least 20 points in every quarter of the contest shot 33 percent from behind the arc, won the battle in the paint and scored 27 second-chance points.
The Hawks have been practicing twice a day leading up to the start of the new semester on Monday. The goal has been to get up more shots and it has seemed to help. The team has also improved at the free throw line as of late with three straight games at 64 percent or higher from the line.
“The thing that is encouraging is that we continue to work and address the things that have caused us to not win,” Batchelor said. “In doing so, we are seeing some positive results.”
Sarah Edmond the Bison in scoring (13.7 per game), but is a game-time decision after missing Monday’s contest against the Aggies due to injury. She also leads the team in assists with 3.1 per game.
“We are going to assume she is going to play in this game,” Batchelor said. “She is a sophomore and her freshman year she had a come out game against us at home (14 points in a 71-70 Bison win), so we will not be surprised at what she is capable of doing.”
Bairesha Gill-Miles (Lexington, Kentucky) continues to lead the Hawks in scoring (11.2 per game) and rebounding (6.9 per game) and is coming off her third double-double of the season and fifth MEAC Rookie of the Week Award.
“I think that she has been our most effective player,” Bachelor said. “I mean for a freshman to lead us in scoring and rebounding — In all my years of coaching I don’t think I’ve ever had a freshman lead the team in scoring and rebounding.”
The 6-foot freshman began the season coming off the bench for the first six games, but quickly worked her way into the starting lineup. She has reached double digits in scoring in 12 of the teams 19 games.
“The thing about it is that we have just been tougher and tougher on her,” Bachelor said. “There are just so many thing that she can improve upon and she has responded. Even though it’s challenging for a freshman, she has responded positively to the challenges.
“You would have though coming out of film the other day she was the worst player on the floor. So, I know sometimes she’s wondering what the heck is going on because she’s doing so much yet her name is the one that keeps popping up. But what we want to do is do our job and make sure she reaches her full potential.”
Ciani Byrom (Winston-Salem, North Carolina) is second on the Hawks in scoring with 9.0 per game and leads the team in assists with 2.1, while shipping in 2.8 rebounds.
Graduate transfer Jordyn Smith (Durham, North Carolina) is averaging 7.6 points and 6.0 rebounds.
The Shore is averaging 21 offensive rebounds a game over the last four games and will need to continue to hit the glass hard against Howard’s size.
“We talk about that a lot,” Batchelor said. “I was pleased that even against North Carolina A&T State — a much bigger team — we were able to get 20-plus offense rebounds,” Batchelor said. “It just goes to show the effort the kids are putting in. Even when we’ve fallen short it hasn’t been for a lack of effort. It’s really been the little things we need to do better.”
In all of the Eastern Shore’s five wins this season the team has shot at least 35 percent, turned the ball over less than their opponent,
“Our best defense is our offense and controlling the game an playing disciplined defense,” Batchelor said. “But it’s hard to play disciplined defense when you are not in position. So we need to get in position, finish plays, not turn the ball over and limit them to one shot.”
For more information on Eastern Shore Athletics visit http://www.easternshorehawks.com/.
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