HAWKS OPEN PLAY IN MEAC TOURNAMENT WITH CONVINCING WIN OVER TIGERS
Mercer was 5-for-8 from long range for a game-high 17 points
Mercer was 5-for-8 from long range for a game-high 17 points

March 5, 2012

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - Since its incorporation in 1978, the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament had not seen such a dominant defensive performance until Monday night, as the University of Maryland Eastern Shore women's basketball team opened up play in the tournament with a 51-28 victory over Savannah State University. With the win, UMES moves on to the MEAC Quarterfinals to play No. 3 seed Florida A&M University on Thursday at noon.

The points allowed by UMES (12-17) shattered the previous record of 32, which had been seen two times in the conference tournament's 34 year history. The last time the feat had been achieved was in 1990, when North Carolina A&T held Bethune-Cookman to 32 points.

The sixth-seeded Hawks limited SSU to an 8-for-55 (14 percent) effort from the floor as they held the eleventh-seeded Tigers scoreless across a 12-minute span in the first-half to race out to an early lead. The Hawk defense forced Savannah State into a 10-percent effort from the floor in the second-half, where the Tigers had only two players register points.

The victory ensured UMES of the season sweep over SSU, as the Hawks pinned a 47-42 decision on the Tigers just four days ago in Princess Anne.

The Hawks were led by the performance of senior forward Adobi Agbasi (Columbus, Ga.), who posted her third double-double of the year with a 13-point, 12-rebound effort. Senior guard Kwinnyata Mercer (Mt. Vernon, N.Y.) notched a game-high 17 points on a 5-for-8 long distance shooting performance, while junior forward Chelsea Sanders (Rochester, N.Y.) had nine points and eight boards.

UMES opened the game on a 13-2 run as the Hawks scored 10 unanswered points across a 10-minute span. The span saw UMES allow just one-field goal, where the Hawks provided a resilient defense that held SSU to nothing from the floor for a period of 16 minutes. UMES' lead stood in double-digits for the majority of the first, but SSU would come back with a late rally.

Following a free-throw shot by freshman guard Jessica Long (Ft. Washington, Md.), SSU rebounded with eight unanswered points. The 8-0 run in the final two minutes of action dropped UMES' lead to seven, 23-16, at intermission.

The Hawks would score the first eight points of the second as a layup by senior guard Amber Cook (Greensboro, N.C.) upped the Hawk lead to 15, 31-16, with 16:45 in the game. The game would remain scoreless for nearly two minutes, before SSU's Jasmine Kirkland hit a jumper to bring its deficit to within 13.

The two teams would play to an even beat over the next six minutes, where the UMES defense limited Savannah St., to just two free-throws. SSU would collect its third field-goal of the half and last of the game, at the five-minute mark as the margin stood at 10 points in favor of the maroon and gray.

It was all UMES the rest of the way as the Hawks rattled off 11 unanswered points over the next four minutes to take a 21-point lead after a converted free-throw by Cook.

UMES concluded the game with a layup by freshman forward Saisha Coleman (Baltimore, Md.) and a free-throw by sophomore guard Courtney Braxton (Virginia Beach, Va.).

Savannah St., was paced by Ezinne Kalu, who had team-highs in points (12) and rebounds (eight). The Tigers were hurt by a 14-percent overall effort from the floor and were outrebounded, 46-33, by the Hawks.


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