There was a lot of optimism around the campus of Maryland-Eastern Shore leading up to the start of the season.
The UMES mascot, Harry T. Hawk, won the 1st Annual College Court Report Mascot Mayhem contest, which got the entire campus involved. Harry T. Hawk took to the streets to campaign for votes, and used Hawk Hysteria as a way to inform students of the campaign. New head coach Bobby Collins brings a new identity to a Hawks team that struggled to a 6 – 24 record overall, and 4 – 12 in conference play. With Collins at the helm, and some key pieces returning to the squad, the Hawks have reason for optimism about the future.
The Hawks open their season with 7 straight games away from home, with 6 games on the road and one against Detroit at a neutral location. The Hawks didn’t start the season overly well, but played well against the Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers on Wednesday to score their first win under Bobby Collins.
The Hawks opened their season with back-to-back losses, against top-tier opponents in Virginia Tech and #12 Villanova Wildcats. The Hokes beat the Hawks 71 – 46, and then the Wildcats bested UMES 81 – 44. The Hawks had some offensive troubles through their first two games, which will be an issue going forwards if the troubles continue.
Against the Mountaineers, the Hawks didn’t need to be overly great on offense, because their defense was stellar, as the Hawks went into Knott Arena and left Emmitsburg with a 53 – 41 victory.
The Hawks scored the four points of the game, on layups from Devon Walker and Michael Myers, and held the Mountaineers without a point for the first three and a half minutes into the game.
At the 11-minute mark, the Hawks stretched the lead in the game to 10, 14 – 4, on a Devin Martin three-pointer. The Mountaineers would cut the deficit back to as little as 7 points, but the Hawks were too much in the first half. UMES entered half-time on an 12 – 4 run, and led 26 – 11 at the break.
In the second half, Mount St. Mary’s opened with an 8 – 0 run to trim the lead to 7 points, capped off by Khalid Nwandu making one of two free throw attempts. The teams would go on to trade baskets, with Devon Walker scoring 10 straight points for the Hawks to get the lead back up to 11.
The Mountaineers trimmed it back down to 5, thanks to a mini 6-0 run. However, that’s as close as they would get in the game, as the Hawks put a stranglehold on the lead. The Hawks held the lead for the entire game, as the Mountaineers were never able to tie UMES, or take the lead of their own. While the score wasn’t overly high, the Hawks played their first complete game of the season, which led to their first win of the 2014-15 campaign.
The Hawks were led by Devon Walker, who led all scorers in the game with 14 points. Six Hawks scored at least 6 points in the game, while 9 of the 10 players who saw action recorded at least 1 point. Dominique Elliot recorded 8 points and 7 rebounds in the win, while Michael Myers recorded 7 points and 7 rebounds.
The Mountaineers were led by Byron Ashe, who scored a team-high 9 points in a losing effort.
As previously mentioned, the Hawks put a stranglehold on the lead throughout the entire game, which is due to their strong defense. The Hawks held Mount St. Mary’s to 29.8% shooting (14-of-47) from the field, and just 6 – 23 from behind the arc. On the contrary, the Hawks shot 40.9% (18-of-44) from the field in the win.
One key area that led to their victory was rebounding. The Hawks limited the Mountaineers to 7 offensive rebounds, and held a +12 rebound margin overall. The Hawks outrebounded the Mountaineers 38 – 26. All in all, it was a good win for the Hawks to start the season.
The road doesn’t get any easier for the Hawks, as they take on #15 Virginia Commonwealth on Thursday night as a part of the Progressive Legends Classic.
Their home opener isn’t until December 2nd when they take on the UMBC Retrievers. Hopefully the Hawks can pull off a couple more victories before they head back home in December.
Now that Coach Collins has his first win with the Hawks under his belt, they can turn their attention to improving as a team and working towards their next few games, as they look to gain some momentum as the season progresses.