LADY HAWKS NEARLY HAD MIRACLE MINUTE, FALL TO MORGAN STATE 56-49 TO END SEASON
Karona Roach scored five points and grabbed nine rebounds in her final game as a Lady Hawk.

Karona Roach scored five points and grabbed nine rebounds in her final game as a Lady Hawk.

March 11, 2013

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NORFOLK, Va. - Down 11 points with one minute to play, UMES nearly pulled off a huge comeback to get within one possession but fell just short, being defeated by Morgan State 56-49 in the MEAC Tournament. The Lady Hawks conclude the season at 8-20 overall while Morgan State goes to 13-17 and will advance to play 3-seed Howard at noon on Thursday.

"We were totally prepared and ready to play, we just came up short," said Shawnee Sweeney (Colonial Heights, Va.), who led UMES with 15 points.

"It was a tough-played game to the end," says UMES head coach Fred Batchelor, "We outshot them and got more field goals, but the difference was at the line."

The Hawks struck first on an Alexis Udoji (Randolph, Mass.) layup to take the lead. A defensive battle ensued as neither side could get going on offense. Whitney Southerland hit a three for Morgan, which was countered by a pair of Shanyce Stewart (Mount Vernon, N.Y.) free throws to push UMES up 4-3 in the first eight minutes.

Both sides kept playing good defense, but UMES took the advantage after a Bianca Jarrett three. Karona Roach (Bear, Del.) went on a personal 4-0 run to get UMES back in front, with Sweeney added a three to push UMES ahead 11-6 with seven minutes left in the first half.

But Morgan State countered with an 11-0 run in the next six-and-a-half minutes, led by five points from Jarrett, taking the lead 17-11. Roach hit a free throw to stop the run, but UMES trailed 17-12 at halftime.

Out of the locker room, Udoji attacked the glass and hit UMES's first two baskets in the half to get the team within three. But Jarrett scored five points in a row to get Morgan State a 24-16 lead.

The Lady Hawks countered with the charity stripe and the paint, piecing together three free throws and an Ashleigh Claybrooks (Manassas, Va.) putback layup to get back within three 24-21 with six minutes elapsed in the second period.

After an exchange of two points each, Morgan State got help from the perimeter with two three-point makes en route to a 14-3 run to take a 38-26 lead.

With UMES down 42-28, Sweeney hit a three with 4:54 left to play. The teams went back and forth when the Lady started to get back in the game. With the defense drawing a couple of charges, Jessica Long (Fort Washington, Md.) scored four in a row to get UMES back within eight 45-37 with 2:22 left.

Looking down and out behind 50-39 with a minute remaining, UMES started a huge comeback. Sweeney hit a three with 49 seconds left, then after two missed free throws, hit a layup. Next possession, Chalyse Taylor (Louisville, Ky.) buried a corner three to complete an 8-0 run in 30 seconds left to pull UMES within one possession 50-47.

Jarrett hit two free throws the other way, and Long hit a pair as well to put UMES back within three. But Jarrett kept hitting free throws and UMES could not close the gap, being defeated 56-49.

"This is a year I did not want to end," said Batchelor, "I haven't been this emotional since I took over at UMES."

The defeat ends the careers of UMES seniors Sha-Kiyla Finney and Karona Roach. Both served the Maroon and Gray for four seasons.

Sweeney led UMES with 15 points, including 12 of them in the second half.

"Sweeney stepped up today and was a big time scorer for us," said Batchelor.

Off the bench, Claybrooks got a near double double with eight points and 11 rebounds. Udoji had eight points and five rebounds, while Roach had five points and nine boards.

For Morgan State, Jarrett went 13-15 and finished with 26 points to lead all players. Carrington had 17 points and seven rebounds, while Moneshia Davis got a team-best 10 boards off the bench.

The Lady Hawks graduate just two seniors and will get ready for next season.