Four straight losses was not the start that head coach Bobby Collins and the Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawks had envisioned for the 2015-16 season. On the heels of one of the most successful seasons in school history, which was Collins’ first as head coach, there was a ton of optimism around the program.
After the Hawks were blown out in their home opener against the Fairfield Stags, to the tune of 113-74, they quickly turned their attention to their game on Friday against the Saint Francis (PA) Red Flash. The Red Flash came in with a 2-2 record overall, but were coming off a loss against Kent State in their last time out.
Dominique Elliott, a preseason All-MEAC First Team selection, started the 2015-16 season slow, in terms of overall production, but has kicked his game into another gear lately. On Friday afternoon inside Hytche Arena, his strong play carried the Hawks to their first victory of the season, a 70-57 defeat of the visiting Saint Francis (PA) Red Flash.
Both teams were relatively even in the first half, going neck-and-neck through the opening 20 minutes. The Red Flash took an early six point lead, but the Hawks chipped away, eventually taking a pair of 7-point leads of their own as the half wore on.
At the break, Maryland-Eastern Shore held a slim 36 – 35 lead over the Red Flash.
The second half was all about the Hawks building on their lead. Throughout the opening 10 minutes of the second half, the Hawks went on a 21 – 12 run, capped off by a layup from Elliott, to stretch their lead to double-figures. Saint Francis (PA) was never able to come back from the deficit, and the Hawks soared down the stretch.
UMES would stretch their lead to as many as 15 points, and cruised to the 70 – 57 victory, much to the delight of their home crowd.
The win was also Coach Collins’ 200th career win as a head coach.
For the visiting Saint Francis (PA) Red Flash, Ronnie Drinnon and Isaiah Blackmon combined for 32 of the Red Flash’s 57 points. Drinnon scored 15 points, while Blackmon recorded a team-high 17 points in a losing effort. Drinnon also recorded 13 rebounds for his first double-double of the season.
Dominique Elliott and Devin Martin carried the Hawks to their first victory of the season, combining for 39 points on Friday. Elliott recorded a game-high 21 points to go along with 8 rebounds, while Martin scored 18 points to lead UMES to the win.
Bakari Copeland continued his strong play in his first season with the Hawks, recording 8 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists in 37 minutes of floor time.
For the Saint Francis (PA) Red Flash (2-3), they will return back home and use practice this weekend to try and find ways to get themselves back on the right track. They welcome the Lehigh Mountain Hawks to town on December 2nd.
After a mini two-game home stand, the Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawks (1-4) head back on the road for seven straight contests away from Hytche Arena. They open up the month of December with a game against the Georgetown Hoyas on December 1st.
This was the sixth meeting between the schools in their history, but it was the first time that the Hawks have taken down the Red Flash. Last season, the Red Flash edged out the Hawks, 57-53. Saint Francis (PA) now holds a 5-1 edge in the all-time series.