PRINCESS ANNE, Md. — Coming into Thursday night’s regular season finale in the MEAC, there were several different scenarios that could play out for both the Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawks and the Morgan State Bears.
A win for the Bears would secure them the second seed in the conference tournament. Due to the Norfolk State Spartans being idle, the Bears would have made it a two-way tie for second spot with a 12-4 conference record. However, the Bears beat the Spartans back at the beginning of conference play, thus holding the tie-breaker.
As for the Hawks, regardless of how the game played out for them, they had secured the fifth seed in the MEAC Tournament. A loss, coupled with wins from a pair of other teams, would have created a three-way tie for sixth. The Hawks held the tiebreaker, thus Eastern Shore having secured the six seed.
Note: the Savannah State Tigers are ineligible for post-season play this season due to low APR scores.
Both teams were looking to ride the momentum of a win into the conference tournament. On their Seniors Night, the Hawks wanted to send their graduating players off to the post-season on a high note.
The game came down to the wire, but it was a sharp-shooting junior who ultimately sent the Hawks to the win.
A late three from Dontae Caldwell capped off a late 8-0 run for the Hawks, and they held on for the 67-66 victory to close out the regular season.
With 1:47 to play in the second half, the Hawks found themselves trailing the Bears by five, at 64-59. Head coach Bobby Collins called a timeout to draw up a game plan to try and get Eastern Shore back into the game.
Out of the timeout, Isaac Taylor threw down a dunk, and Bakari Copeland hit a three pointer to tie the game up at 64-all with just over a minute to play in the game.
Then, with 18 ticks left on the clock, Caldwell showcased his shooting range, connecting on a three to give the Hawks the 67-64 lead.
On the next possession, Martez Cameron got a layup to fall in the lane. The Bears were looking for a foul, but they didn’t get one. Morgan State fouled Andino on the inbound with 1.3 seconds left, who proceeded to miss the ensuing free throws.
The Bears had one last chance for a shot, but couldn’t get one off before the buzzer. Maryland-Eastern Shore fought their way back in the final two minutes to close out their regular season with a 67-66 win over Morgan State.
In his final home game of his collegiate career, Bakari Copeland put forth another solid performance, much to the delight of the home fans. Copeland scored a team-high 18 points to go along with seven rebounds.
Ryan Andino went 3-of-8 from three point range, finishing with 13 points off the bench.
Tiwian Kendley, the top scorer in the MEAC this season, scored a game-high 20 points to lead the way for the Bears. Cameron chipped in with 12 points in the loss.
Despite the loss, the Morgan State Bears (14-15, 11-5) are the 3-seed in the MEAC Tournament, and they will take on the winner of the first round game between the Coppin State Eagles (#6) and Howard Bison (#11) on Tuesday.
With the win, the Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawks (12-19, 9-7) are the 5-seed in the conference tournament. They narrowly missed a first round bye, and will take on the North Carolina A&T Aggies (#12) on Monday afternoon.
– T. Bennett