Interstate ‘rivalry’ games are always exciting, even when it features smaller schools. They always seem to bring out the best in both teams, and that was the case on Sunday afternoon.
In Princess Anne, MD, the Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawks welcomed the UMBC Retrievers to town for their home opener.
The Hawks were coming off a four-point loss in their season opener against the George Washington Colonials. Their second half comeback efforts fell short in the end, and the Colonials came away with the 75-71 win to open the year.
On the flip side, the Retrievers came into Sunday looking for their second win of the year. In their first game of the year, UMBC cruised past Hood College, holding down their home court with a 92-61 victory.
Sunday provided another opportunity for both teams to build some early-season momentum. UMBC opened up a nine-point lead in the second half, but just like on opening night, the Hawks fought their way back and gave the Retrievers everything they could handle.
Unfortunately for the Hawks, the result was the same for the second game in a row. Their comeback efforts fell just short, and the Retrievers came away with the hard-fought 77-73 victory, spoiling Maryland-Eastern Shore’s home opener in the process.
The Retrievers were led by guards Will Darley and Jairus Lyles. Darley scored a team-high 24 points, while going 6-of-8 from the floor and 5-of-6 from three point range. Lyles added 23 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists in the win for UMBC.
On the flip side, the Hawks used more of a balanced attack, but couldn’t fight their way back and take a lead of their own down the stretch. Senior forward Bakari Copeland recorded his first double-double of the season, putting in 13 points and pulling down 13 rebounds in the loss.
However, it was two newcomers who made yet another positive impression early in 2016-17. First off, freshman forward Tyler Jones had himself quite the game in his first action on his home floor. He scored a game-high 28 points on 11-of-14 shooting, while playing 27 minutes on the day.
Junior guard Logan McIntosh continued his strong play for the Hawks. He recorded 13 points and 9 assists, narrowly missing his first double-double at Maryland-Eastern Shore.
It was a back-and-forth affair to open the game. The Hawks held a slim 10-9 lead less than four minutes into the game. That was the last lead they would hold on the afternoon.
The Retrievers held a four-point lead at half-time, and stretched their lead to as many as nine points in the second half. Maryland-Eastern Shore fought back, and Jones connected on a three pointer with under 10 seconds to play in the game to cut the deficit to 75-71.
Eastern Shore had to foul, and Lyles sealed the game at the free throw line.
The loss was the second straight for the Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawks (0-2, 0-0) to kick off the 2016-17 season, and both have been by just four points.
Eastern Shore will look for their first win of the season on Tuesday evening, when they head on the road to take on the Boston College Eagles, who were upset by the Nicholls State Colonels on opening night.
– T. Bennett