PRINCESS ANNE, Md. — Before the 2016-17 season kicked off, we tabbed the South Carolina State Bulldogs as our preseason favourites in the MEAC.
So far this season, the Bulldogs haven’t lived up to their preseason hype.
Eric Eaves and company entered Saturday’s game with a 3-3 record in conference play, and were in the middle-of-the-pack in the MEAC standings. They had alternated wins and losses in their first six conference games, and were looking to buck the trend on the road, and notch back-to-back wins.
They were taking on a Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawks team who came into the weekend riding a two-game winning streak of their own. Last weekend, the Hawks went down to Florida and came back with a pair of wins over the Florida A&M Rattlers and Bethune-Cookman Wildcats.
On Saturday, the trends would continue for both teams. The Bulldogs would continue to alternate wins and losses, while the Hawks would extend their winning streak to three games.
Behind Bakari Copeland‘s double-double of 22 points and 13 rebounds, the Hawks outscored the Bulldogs by 20 points in the second half to blow the game open. Maryland-Eastern Shore opened their two-game home swing with a 92-69 win over South Carolina State.
It was an ideal start for the visitors, as the Bulldogs scored eight of the first ten points in the game. However, as the first half ticked away, it was a back-and-forth affair.
The Hawks took a slim 44-41 lead into the break, and they used the momentum to extend their lead early in the second half.
Maryland-Eastern Shore opened the second on a 9-2 run to push their lead to 10 points, at 53-43. From there, they never looked back, as they held the lead the rest of the way and took the wind from the sails of the Bulldogs.
With the win, the Hawks extended their winning streak to a season-high three games, while the Bulldogs continued their recent trend of alternating wins and losses, failing to build off a win in their previous outing.
Bakari Copeland recorded his third double-double in his past four games to pace the Hawks. He scored a game-high 22 points, and pulled down 13 rebounds. Copeland did most of his damage from the free throw line, going 13-of-14 from the line.
Ryan Andino added 11 points, while Derrico Peck chipped in with 13 points off the bench in the win, going a perfect 5-of-5 from the field in the process.
Off the bench, James Richardson scored a team-high 16 points for the Bulldogs. Ed Stephens chipped in with 11 points off the bench.
Eric Eaves led all Bulldogs’ starters with 12 points of his own, to go along with 6 rebounds.
With the win, the Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawks (7-14, 4-2) continue their rise up the MEAC standings. They will look to continue their strong play on Monday night inside Hytche Arena against the Savannah State Tigers.
The loss continued a trend for the South Carolina State Bulldogs (6-14, 3-4), one that has seen them alternate wins and losses since the start of MEAC play. They will look to notch a win on Monday night when they take on the Howard Bison.
– T. Bennett