PRINCESS ANNE, Md. — Don’t look now, but the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats are tied atop the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference standings. The Wildcats used a second-half comeback to top the Maryland Eastern Shore Hawks on Monday night, 89-84.
It marks the third straight win for Bethune-Cookman after a four game losing streak that brought them to the end of 2017.
In the MEAC preseason poll, the Wildcats were picked to finish ninth out of the 13 teams in the league. Through three games, Bethune-Cookman has proven the voters wrong, and look like a team that could very well take home the conference title come the end of February.
On Monday, senior guard Brandon Tabb had one of his better shooting games of the season. The Preseason First Team All-MEAC selection went 7-of-14 from three point range, finishing with 28 points to lead the Wildcats past the Hawks.
Tabb set a new season-high for points on Monday, and it was his sixth game of the season with 20 or more. He added eight rebounds against the Hawks.
Forward Soufiyane Diakite recorded a double-double in the win, posting 20 points to go along with 11 rebounds. Isaiah Bailey chipped in with 18 points off the bench.
For the Hawks, guard Ahmad Frost continued his strong play as of late. He scored a team-high 21 points to go along with five rebounds. He is averaging 23.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game over the Hawks’ first three conference games this season.
Logan McIntosh added 17 points and eight assists.
Eastern Shore led for most of the second half, and a jumper from Colen Gaynor with 5:34 to play gave the Hawks a nine point lead, at 76-67. The home side looked as though they were going to pull away for the win, but the Wildcats had other plans.
Bailey responded with a layup to kick off the comeback for Bethune-Cookman. Tabb finished the quick 6-0 run off with a three pointer, bringing the Wildcats back to within three points with 4:11 to play in the game.
Then, with 2:36 to play, Tabb was fouled on a three point attempt. His jumper found the bottom of the basket, and he hit the ensuing free throw to put the Wildcats ahead by one, at 79-78. In the closing minutes, Bailey took over from the free throw line, padding the Wildcats’ lead and putting them ahead for good.
Bethune-Cookman closed the game on a 22-8 run, and clawed their way back to take home the 89-84 victory over Maryland Eastern Shore on the road.
With the win, Bethune-Cookman (8-9, 3-0) is off to its best start in MEAC play since 2011. They will go for their fourth-straight win on Saturday afternoon at home against the Florida A&M Rattlers.
Despite scoring well above their seasonal average for the third game in a row, Maryland Eastern Shore (5-13, 1-2) has just two wins in their last 10 games. They will look to get back to .500 in MEAC play on Saturday when they visit the Savannah State Tigers.
– T. Bennett