REMARKABLE SECOND-HALF COMEBACK FALLS JUST SHORT IN LOSS TO SPARTANS
March 10, 2014
NORFOLK, Va. – The University of Maryland Eastern Shore men’s basketball team put forth a valiant effort in the opening round of the MEAC Tournament on Monday night, but the fourth-seeded Norfolk State Spartans were too tough in the final seconds, as the Hawks fell, 78-74, at the Norfolk Scope Arena. The loss concludes the season for the Hawks, who finished the year winning two of their final four games.
With the decision, UMES falls to 6-24, while Norfolk State moves to 18-13.
"I'm really proud of our guys battling back the way they did," said Head Coach Frankie Allen. "It was a hard fought game and we had an opportunity at the end to make a play but it just didn't happen. For us to battle a team like that and especially in the way that we did it, I'm just really proud."
Down by 18 points with just under 10 to go, UMES used two free-throws by freshman Hakeem Baxter (Philadelphia, Pa.) to tie the game at 72 and cap a 26-8 run at the 2:19 mark. Norfolk State responded with a layup, before the Hawks used two free-throws by senior Troy Snyder (Chicago, Ill.) to bring the game even again.
NSU’s Rashid Gaston made one of two free-throws to give the Spartans the lead, 75-74, but UMES looked to post its first lead of the ballgame on the ensuing possession. NSU initiated a Hawk turnover with 46 seconds left and ran down the clock to the final seconds. UMES forced an errant shot with six seconds remaining, but an offensive rebound by Pendarvis Williams and two made free-throws was the difference maker.
Norfolk State scored the first nine points of the game to take a 9-0 lead three minutes in. The Spartan lead increased to 10 minutes later, before a three-pointer by junior Isaac Smith III (Chicago, Ill.) cut the margin to two possessions, 20-14, at the 10:57 mark. NSU went on a 10-4 push over the next three minutes to take a 12-point lead. The Hawk deficit stayed above 15 points the rest of the half and two free-throws by Kievyn Lila-St. Rose gave NSU a 43-26 lead at the break.
UMES had three players tally five points in the frame, including Baxter and Snyder, who each had a team-high four boards. The Spartans took advantage of eight UMES giveaways to hold a 12-6 advantage in points off turnovers.
The margin of the game stayed the same for the first four minutes of the second. An 11-4 Norfolk State push upped the Spartan lead to 23, 60-37, with just under 13 minutes left in the game.
The Hawks had other plans in mind, though, as they slowly brought the margin down over the next few minutes. UMES scored seven of the game’s next nine points to bring the score to within 18 with 10 minutes to go. It would then set the stage for UMES’ valiant late-game push, where the Hawks came up just short in the final moments of the contest.
UMES was led in the game by Baxter, who scored 21 points on a 10-of-12 effort from the free-throw line. Freshman Devon Walker (Philadelphia, Pa.) hit four big threes to score 16 points, while freshman Mark Blackmon (Charlotte, N.C.) had a career-high 13 points and three steals in the loss.
Norfolk State was led by Williams, who had 22 points and seven rebounds. The Spartans saw Rashid Gaston and Malcolm Hawkins each tally 17 points, while Marese Phelps had four assists. The Spartans brought down 11 offensive rebounds, including the decisive board in the waning seconds of the game.
Snyder had 11 points and four boards to finish his career scoring double-digits in each of the final nine games. The senior also had five double-doubles during the three-week span. Bell had five points and three assists in the game, while Guillaume had two boards. UMES looks to return eight letter winners for the 2014-15 season.
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