DESPITE STRONG DEFENSIVE EFFORT, HAWKS FALL 52-47 TO BETHUNE-COOKMAN
March 11, 2009
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - The Hawks set the tone early, taking drawing two charges on back to back plays to open the game with a strong defensive effort. Despite the strong defense, the offense suffered and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) fell to Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU) 52-47 in the opening round the 2009 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Tournament.
UMES, the 11-seed, took on the sixth seeded Wildcats in a back and forth battle. B-CU finished in a tie for third in the league this season but tiebreakers gave then the sixth seed while the Hawks gave them all they could handle.
It was such a close game that the two teams were tied at the break with 23 and there were 10 ties throughout the contest. However the Reed duo, Head Coach Clifford Reed and MEAC Rookie of the Year CJ Reed, were the Hawk undoing. Despite holding the younger Reed to just eight points at the break, and only two field goals, he got his game going in the second frame. He scored seven of the Wildcat's last eight points, including a go ahead jumper to finish with 22 points, a game high. No other Wildcat finished in double figures.
The two teams played similar games both in Daytona Beach, Fla. and Princess Anne, Md. The Wildcats won both games by a combined five points. In this one there were 10 lead changes and the biggest lead for either team was six points.
"It was a really tough and hard fought game," said Head Coach Frankie Allen. "Both teams really played tough. They made plays down the stretch. I'm proud of our team. The game could have gone either way."
With the Wildcats clinging to a 46-45 lead at the 2:19 mark, CJ Reed asserted himself. First he hit a 15-foot jump shot at the 1:18 mark. After the Hawks failed to score on the other end, Reed knocked down two free-throws to extend the lead to five, 50-45. UMES got back to within three at 50-47 on a lay-in by Marc Davis. Then Reed nailed two insurance free throws after a big offensive rebound by John Holmes gave the Wildcats a second chance.
The game saw several solid defensive plays, including back to back blocks from the Hawks Aleksandar Popovic that sparked am 8-0 run in the first half. It also featured two technical fouls, one on Coach Reed and one on the player Reed. Chris Conner made two of those four technical free throws and finished with a team high 13 points. Neal Pitt scored 12 points and had 10 rebounds while Jamie Boyer added six points.
There were 55 free throws attempted in the contest with UMES getting the better end of the deal, going 15-24 for a 62.5-percent clip while the Wildcats were 19-31 at 61.3-percent. Both teams were in the bonus inside of the 12 minute mark of the first half.
B-CU advances to the semi-finals against Norfolk State, the three seed on Thursday at 6 p.m. The Hawks finish their season at 7-23, an improvement from the last few years. Much of that success can be attributed to new Head Coach, Frankie Allen.
"New players, new coaching staff, I know when I came in that the program had been down for a few years. It's a work in progress and we understand that," said Allen. "We know there are a few things we need to get better at. But I think as we move forward, we move forward with a positive attitude."