Dover, DE — The middle of the MEAC standings are more congested than a Canadian Costco on a Saturday afternoon.
Coming into Saturday’s action, five and a half games separated the third place team from the team in 12th. While the North Carolina Central Eagles still have a stranglehold on top spot in the conference, it appears as though that a number of teams have a legitimate shot at the MEAC tournament title, which takes place in Norfolk, VA from March 6-11, 2017.
Saturday saw the Delaware State Hornets welcome the Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawks to town in a battle of two teams who were looking to improve their standing as the regular season winds down.
In front of their home crowd, the Hornets led for the majority of the contest. The Hawks would never hold a lead of their own until the final two minutes of the game, but that’s all they needed.
Logan McIntosh hit a free throw with 1:46 to play in the second half to give Eastern Shore their first lead of the game, at 63-62. He followed that up with a floater in the lane to push the Hawks’ lead to three with under a minute to play.
Despite falling behind by 13 points at the break, Maryland-Eastern Shore clawed their way back in the second half, and came away with the 65-64 win over the Hornets.
The opening half was a struggle for the Hawks from the field. The visitors shot just 35% from the field over the first 20 minutes of action, which was a big factor in their 13-point deficit at the break.
In the second, their shooting improved to 41% from the field, and they held the Hornets to 42% shooting as they clawed their way back into the contest.
Over the course of the afternoon, the Hawks made the most of their opportunities at the free throw line in the win. Eastern Shore was a combined 10-of-14 from the charity stripe.
Eastern Shore made six more jumpers from three point range in comparison to the Hornets. The Hawks finished 13-of-28 from beyond the arc, while the Hornets were a combined 7-of-14 from three point range.
Delaware State led for most of the afternoon, but were unable to hang on down the stretch. DeVaughn Mallory had himself an effective afternoon, going 8-of-11 from the field and scoring a team-best 17 points to go along with 9 rebounds
Devin Morgan, Jr. chipped in with 14 points and 6 assists, while forward DeAndre Haywood added 11 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists in the loss.
Not to be outdone by Mallory, Bakari Copeland had himself an effective night to lead the way for Eastern Shore, Copeland went 6-of-11 from the floor, and 4-of-6 from three point range, matching Mallory’s total of 17 points in the win.
Ryan Andino (12 points) and Thomas Rivera (10 points) had themselves strong games off the bench for the Hawks, both playing key roles in the victory.
The Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawks (11-18, 8-6) return to the court on Monday night, where they will put their two-game win streak on the line when they take on the Howard Bison.
After a four-game winning streak, the Delaware State Hornets (9-21, 6-9) have lost three straight contests heading into their final regular season contest, which is Thursday night against Howard.
– T. Bennett