Hawks end nonconference season at ECU
Dec. 28, 2017

GREENVILLE, North Carolina -

The University of Maryland Eastern Shore will finish out the nonconference portion of its season Thursday (Dec. 28) when the Hawks take on East Carolina (7-5) at 7 p.m.

The Shore (3-8) will be looking to build on their pre-Christmas victory against University of Maryland, Baltimore County while preparing for the start of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference season.

With Ciani Byrom (Winston-Salem, North Carolina) back for just the second game after a 26-game injury layoff, and in the starting backcourt with Keyera Eaton (Winston-Salem, North Carolina) for the first time since Jan. 9 2017, the team showed hints of where it could go.

But with seven new faces and a pair of starting guards who have missed 40 games between them since the beginning of last season, it is unclear how long it will take this team to find itself, but the flashes of potential are encouraging.

Im wondering myself, Hawks head coach Fred Batchelor said after the UMBC victory. I thought today was a good step in the right direction, but we still have some ways to go. We are nowhere near there. I thought we could have played a lot better in the first half and had a bigger lead. CiCi is nowhere near who she is going to be and that probably wont happen until midway through conference.



Bachelor said that player harder and grittier is going to help the team get through that period of gelling that will take weeks that the team didnt have together as a complete group during the early season. So, when conference play begins at Morgan State on Jan. 3, this will not be the same team that hopes to compete for a MEAC title in Norfolk in March.

There will be bumps along the way as the team works through its growing pains.

We need to make sure that we dont pay too much and give ourselves a bad seed when it comes tournament time, Batchelor said. We just have to grind out every game and have to be better, get mentally tougher. Its going to take time. Its going to take resiliency.

Thursdays matchup will be a tremendous help in that process.

The Hawks were competitive at Minges Coliseum last season when they faced the Pirates falling 66-58. ECU won the rebounding battle 45-34 and the bench outscored the Hawks reserves 29-3, but the Hawks bench is deeper right now than any point last season.

But the Pirates have since reloaded and a freshman from the state leads the way. Ariyana Williams recorded over 2,000 points, 400 rebounds, 380 assists and 340 steals in four years at Freedom High School in Morganton, North Carolina and doesnt seem to have slowed down since moving her act to Greenville.

The 5-foot-9 guard is averaging a team-best 12.0 points per game while shooting 35 percent from the field and 32 percent (27-of-84) from behind the arc. She was named this weeks American Athletic Conference Freshman of the Week following a career-high 34-points in ECUs last game. With the honor, Williams became the Pirates first freshman to earn the accolade since joining the conference in 2014.

Thais Oliveira is second on the team in scoring at 11 points per game. The 6-foot-2 senior from Manaus Amazonas, Brazil also leads the team in rebounding (11 ppg.) and blocked shots (1.8 bpg). She came to Greenville two years ago from Central Florida College as the No. 10 JUCO prospect in the nation.

Oliveira could be a difficult matchup inside, but seniors Tori Morris (Herndon, Virginia) and Jordyn Smith (Durham, North Carolina) combined for eight points, four assists, two steals and 16 rebounds in the post against the Retrievers.

The Hawks also have a freshman of their own leading the team in scoring. Bairesha Gill-Miles leads the team in scoring (11.6 ppg) and rebounding (6.4) and just won her second MEAC Rookie of the Week Award of the season. She has score in double figures in eight straight games and will be starting her sixth game of the season.

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

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