The start of the 2015-16 was one to forget for the Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawks. After one of the best seasons in program history back in 2014-15, resulting in a CIT appearance and 18 wins overall, the team opened this season with a 3-12 record overall, and 0-2 in conference play.
Coach Bobby Collins and the rest of the Hawks were looking for a fresh start as the calendar switched over to 2016. The road wasn’t going to be easy, as they took on the Pittsburgh Panthers to open the new year. Despite taking on a power conference opponent on the road, the Hawks were confident in their abilities to make a game out of it, and possibly come away with a win.
After the first half, the Hawks were within 6, at 39-33. The second half, however, was a different story, as Pittsburgh flexed their muscle and limited the Hawks to just 25 points. The Panthers blew things open in the second half, rolling to the 92-58 over the Hawks to open up the New Year with a bang.
In the opening 10 minutes of the game, the Hawks played right alongside the Panthers, showing themselves and the college basketball world that they could hang with the ‘big boys’ from the power conferences. Maryland-Eastern Shore would take a 16-11 lead on a three-point play from Bakari Copeland at the 12:22 mark.
As the half wore on, the Panthers and the Hawks would trade leads. The hometown Panthers were slowly gaining momentum on offense, and eliminated the lead of the Hawks on a jumper from Chris Jones.
The momentum of the Panthers would push them to a pair of seven-point leads in the half, with the latter of the two coming at 5:42 on a James Robinson jumper.
Pittsburgh would keep the Hawks at a safe distance, never allowing them to come within 2 points as the half came to a close. Devin Martin brought the Hawks to within 33-31, but Pittsburgh would push their lead back to 39-33 at the break.
Despite playing the Panthers close in the first half, the Hawks were in for a long second half. Pittsburgh came out with a renewed level of intensity, and looked ready to put the game away early.
Copeland cut Pittsburgh’s advantage to 44-39 early in the second half, but the Panthers would respond with a 14-2 run to take full control of the game. Michael Young scored 5 points in the run, while Jamel Artis scored 6 of his own to give Pittsburgh a 58-41 advantage.
Pittsburgh would pile on the points as the second half wore on. Sterling Wilson pushed the Panthers’ lead to 30 points, at 81-51, with just under 5 minutes to play in the game. From there, Pittsburgh had things on cruise control, rolling to the 92-58 victory to open the New Year with a win.
For the visiting Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawks, Bakari Copeland’s career night wasn’t enough to lead them to a win. Copeland put in a game-high 23 points in the loss, along with 1 rebound and 1 assist.
Dominique Elliott recorded his second double-double of the season, recording 12 points and 10 rebounds in the loss.
It was the production from their bench players that hurt the Hawks’ chances on the afternoon. Dontae Caldwell recorded 4 points, and Stephen Spurlock added 2 points to make up the bench production for Maryland-Eastern Shore.
Leading the way for the Panthers were the usual suspects, as Jamel Artis and Michael Young led the team on the afternoon. All in all, four different Panthers scored in double-figures in the victory. Artis and Young each scored a team-high 14 points in the game.
Artis added in 3 rebounds and 5 assists, while Young recorded 5 rebounds and 1 block in the win.
Forward Sheldon Jeter added 13 points and 6 rebounds on the afternoon.
The loss marked the third-straight defeat for the Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawks (3-13, 0-2) on their four-game road trip to close out conference play. Playing on the road hasn’t been too kind for the Hawks this season, as they sit at 1-12 away from Hytche Arena. The Hawks close out non-conference action on Wednesday night with a road date against the Columbia Lions.
The win continued the run of strong play for the Pitsburgh Panthers (12-1, 1-0) into 2016. It marked their 8th-straight win, and it was their last non-conference game before the daily grind of ACC action. Pittsburgh takes to the court again on Wednesday night when they welcome the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets to town.