UMES NIPPED IN FINAL SECONDS AS HAWKS FALL IN MEAC QUARTERFINALS
March 8, 2012
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Junior forward Chelsea Sanders (Rochester, N.Y.) tied a career-high with 25 points, but it was not enough as the University of Maryland Eastern Shore women’s basketball team was nipped by a layup in the final seconds of regulation, and fell to Florida A&M University, 50-48, in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Quarterfinals.
With 1:09 left in the game, sixth-seeded UMES (12-18) used a layup by Sanders to take a three-point lead, 48-45. Florida A&M (22-7) responded with a three-pointer on the ensuing possession to deadlock the game at 48. Following a timeout, the Rattlers forced a turnover off of an inbounded ball and held possession until the final seconds of play.
The third-seeded Rattlers would call another timeout and with just two seconds left on the shot clock, an inbounded pass from underneath the basket found Tameka McKelton. McKelton deposited the ball through the net to give FAMU a two-point lead.
UMES raced down the court on the game’s final possession, but a three-pointer by senior forward Adobi Agbasi (Columbus, Ga.) landed off target. The win gives Florida A&M a berth into the MEAC Semifinals, where the Rattlers are slated to face second-seeded Howard University.
“We had our chances and we put ourselves in our position to win,” said Head Coach Fred Batchelor. “I’m really proud of how we played today. They left it all out there.”
UMES jumped out to an early lead as Agbasi nailed a jumper in the paint on the game’s opening possession. McKelton responded with a jumper of her own, but UMES would notch the next four points to take a 6-2 lead with 13:48 to play.
FAMU would tally 11 unanswered points as they held the Hawks scoreless over the next four minutes of action. The Rattler lead grew to seven, 13-6, following a free-throw shot by Qiana Donald, but a 9-0 run by the Hawks reversed the momentum and gave UMES a two-point lead with 6:18 to go.
The Rattlers ended the half on a 12-5 run, but a running jumper in the lane by senior guard Kwinnyata Mercer (Mt. Vernon, N.Y.) brought the score to within five, 27-22, at intermission.
Sanders opened the second with a trey and Cook added a layup to move the margin closer to the Hawks’ favor. UMES would go on to produce just two points over the next three minutes as FAMU’s lead grew to its largest of the game (eight) with 14:46 left.
The squads would trade baskets for the next minute, but five points by Sanders and three by Agbasi was enough to give the Hawks a one-point lead, 40-39.
After two FAMU free-throws, senior guard Amber Cook (Greensboro, N.C.) converted a huge three-pointer and Sanders knocked down a free-throw, as the Hawks took a three-point lead, 44-41, with under seven minutes left.
McKelton posted a layup to make it a one-point game with 3:13 on the clock, before the teams combined to go without a basket for the next three minutes.
Sanders came through with an acrobatic layup with just over a minute remaining, to give the Hawks a three-point lead, 48-45. The next possession saw McKelton notch her fifth consecutive point as she buried a three from the far side to equalize the score.
“You can see McKelton was trying to score,” said McKelton. “We had done a great job of defense on her. The one lapse we had was when she knocked down the three to tie.”
With the score knotted at 48, UMES had a chance to go ahead but a turnover gave the Rattlers the first chance at breaking the ice. The Hawks held FAMU without a shot for 30 seconds. With four seconds left, a pass ricocheted off a UMES defender and the ball went out of bounds.
The rest was history as the inbounded ball found McKelton and her shot was converted to send Florida A&M to the MEAC Semifinals.
“We simply didn’t execute,” said Sanders. “We got too excited and turned the ball over. We missed assignments at the end.”
UMES was led by Sanders’ game-high 25 points and eight rebounds. She finished the game with an 11-for-20 effort from the floor. Agbasi posted 10 points and seven rebounds, while Cook had seven points, four steals and five boards. Mercer finished the game with five points and six rebounds in a game-high 39 minutes.
It was the final collegiate game for a trio of UMES seniors. Cook, Agbasi and Mercer combined for 23 points and 18 rebounds in the contest, while logging the three-highest minute totals of anyone on the floor.
“Cook, Agbasi, Mercer are leaving but they established a foundation of toughness,” said Head Coach Fred Batchelor. “They set the tone for the future and established a reputation of us being a tough team. I love those kids to death and I am really going to miss them”