Coming off back to back wins the University of Maryland Eastern Shore Men’s Basketball team (3-6) came into Friday’s game against defending MEAC champions, North Carolina Central University, ready for a battle. The game remained closely contested throughout the two halves, but the NCCU Eagles came out with a 68-63 victory.
The Eagles had just came off of a dominating 101-38 victory against Johnson and Wales so they came into the game showing a lot of confidence. Leading scorer Jordan Parks who is averaging about 14 points per game came out the game scoring, ending the half scoring six straight points on 3-3 shooting, getting Central to a quick lead. With 8:48 left in the game the Eagles led by eight (20-12) which was the largest lead of the night. Two starters got into early foul trouble from the Hawks, Devon Walker and Dominique Elliot, limiting their time on the court. For the Hawks, Devin Martin hit two threes and helped to keep the game close as UMES got settled into their offense. The Hawks also got contributions from consistent Forward Mike Myers. As the Hawks picked up the defensive energy they brought the lead to within two but that was not sustained after NCCU hit a shot to end the half.
After the break NCCU opened up with a three, but the Hawks traded back and forth baskets with them and got solid rebounding from bench players, Shane Randall(4) and Iman Johnson(5), both on the defensive and offensive end. Ryan Andino also came off the bench for the Hawks with lights out shooting, at 50% from beyond the arc. Andino also tied the game at 45-45 with 9:30 left in the game. The Eagles Parks remained steady on the night with two big slams changing the momentum of the game in their favor but UMES did not give up. With two min left in the game, Martin grabbed a steal and fed it up the court to Myers who is fouled, cutting the lead down to two. UMES was not able to convert their last minute possessions, ending with turnovers but stayed strong till the end of the game.
The Eagles won 68-63 improving their record to 5-3, giving the Hawks their first lost in the MEAC. “The Team that can execute down the stretch is the team that’s going to be successful” is what was said by Hawks Coach Bobby Collins when asked how he kept the team so leveled headed throughout a game with so many lead changes.