HAWKS FALL JUST SHORT IN MEAC LOSS TO N.C. CENTRAL
Ishaq Pitt (pictured) dished out a career-high five assists for UMES
Ishaq Pitt (pictured) dished out a career-high five assists for UMES

Feb. 3, 2014

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PRINCESS ANNE, Md. – For the second straight game, the University of Maryland Eastern Shore men’s basketball team electrified its home crowd, but the valiant Hawk effort came up just short, as the men fell, 66-62, to North Carolina Central on Monday night. The contest was a tight affair throughout, with each team countering the other’s charge from start to finish. The two each shot over 45-percent from the floor and had 28 assists combined.

With the loss, UMES falls to 3-16, 1-6 MEAC, while N.C. Central improves to 16-5, 7-1 MEAC.

UMES held a one-point lead, 61-60, after two consecutive made free-throws by senior Francis Ezeiru (Enugu, Nigeria) with two minutes left in the game. The Hawk lead held into the next possession but two offensive rebounds, followed by a foul and two made free-throws by NCCU’s Emmanuel Chapman swung the one-point advantage to the visitors. The N.C. Central advantage held true the rest of the way, as UMES came up just short to the MEAC’s top ranked team.

The Hawks and Eagles engaged in a tight contest right from the get go. A layup by freshman Hakeem Baxter (Philadelphia, Pa.) gave UMES a one-point lead, 11-10, at the 13:30 mark, before NCCU scored nine unanswered points. UMES went to work on the eight-point deficit as the men used five points by senior Troy Snyder (Chicago, Ill.) and a dunk by senior Francis Ezieru (Enugu, Nigeria) to bring the game to within one three minutes later.

UMES took the lead once again, 29-28, after a layup by freshman Shane Randall (Philadelphia, Pa.) at the 4:02 mark. The Hawks held a one-point lead until NCCU’s final possession, but a three-pointer by Dante Holmes gave the Eagles a 41-39 lead at intermission.

UMES shot a season-high 65-percent from the floor in the frame. The men held a 10-9 advantage on the glass and had nine assists, four of which were from junior Ishaq Pitt (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

The game remained within one possession through the first two minutes of the second. NCCU went on a 6-1 push across a 1:30 span to take a five-point lead, 50-45, with 15 minutes left to play. A layup by Ezeiru cut the Hawk deficit to three but the game would go scoreless for the next three minutes.

UMES used an acrobatic layup by Pitt to cap a 7-2 run at the 8:48 mark. A quick Eagle push turned the fortunes and gave NCCU a lead of up to five points, but the Hawks came screaming back to take the lead once more, 61-60, after two made free-throws off the backboard by Ezeiru. Chapman responded with charity stripe conversions of his own to give N.C. Central a one-point lead with 1:32 left.

It was as close as UMES would get the rest of the way as the Hawks brilliant effort came up just short. The team shot over 40-percent from the floor for the seventh time in their past eight games.

UMES was led by Baxter, who scored a game-high 17 points and had five boards. The reigning MEAC Rookie of the Week was 5-for-10 from the field and shot over 50-percent from the field for the fourth time in the past six games. Pitt had eight points and dished out a career-high five assists, while Snyder had 12 points and nine rebounds.

N.C. Central had three players in double-digits with Jeremy Ingram leading the way with 14. Emmanuel Chapman had seven assists, while Ingram had three steals and Karamo Jawara had six boards and five points. The Eagles were 0-for-9 from long-range in the second-half, but converted 13 free-throws in the final 20 minutes to settle the difference.

The Hawks will conclude their three-game homestand on Saturday, Feb. 8, when the men host Coppin State at 4 p.m.

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