The University of Maryland Eastern Shore men’s basketball team notched a critical victory over a fellow MEAC contender with a 71-60 final score over the Howard Bison.
UMES (15-13, 8-5) avenged a loss to the Bison in Washington D.C. by coming away with a series split with Monday’s win in Princess Anne.
UMES needed a bounce back effort after Saturday’s 91-85 defeat at the hands of rivals Delaware State on the Hawks’ Homecoming weekend.
The Hawks came into Monday’s game, having dropped three of their last four, coinciding with the most difficult stretch of their league schedule. An incoming snowstorm forced the UMES administration to push Monday’s doubleheader up by two hours for travel concerns.
Howard capitalized on a lethargic start from UMES, as the visitors scored the game’s first eight points. The Hawks battled back, eventually taking their first lead at 13-12 on a rare three-pointer from walk-on Travis Trim.
Sophomore James Miller carried the Bison, scoring 15 first-half points. After a tie at 25 points apiece, UMES ripped off an 11-1 run near the end of the first half. Eventually, the Hawks took a 36-28 lead into the intermission.
UMES kept pushing their advantage after the break, building a 49-36 lead with 14:58 left thanks to back-to-back three-pointers by Ryan Andino.
Howard subbed out all five starters, in favor of a lineup consisting entirely of reserves. Relying on their bench, the Bison scratched back into the game with a 14-2 run over five minutes and change. The momentum switched on a thunderous dunk by Mike Myers over a defender with 9:18 remaining. The jam sparked a 6-0 run to keep some distance between the Hawks and the visitors.
Coach Nickleberry went back to the starters for Howard, answering the Hawks’ mini run. Miller put the Bison on top for the first time in the second half with a layup at the 4:31 mark, making it 58-57.
Capitalizing on free throws all night, Myers came up clutch from the line with two perfect trips after Howard took the lead. Devin Martin was then bumped on a three-point attempt, sinking all of his foul shots to establish a 64-58 lead with 1:48 to go.
After a defensive stop, a layup by Martin all but sealed the game with an eight-point lead with a minute to play. Howard missed several three-pointers in the final minute, and Myers punctuated the night with one last dunk for a 71-60 final.
After being on the wrong end of a foul shot differential on Saturday, the Hawks used the charity stripe to their advantage on Monday.
As a team, UMES shot 92% from the foul line (23-of-25), including a superb 14-of-16 mark from Myers to account for the bulk of the senior’s 22 points. Martin, who missed the first meeting against Howard with a knee injury, finished with a game-high 23 points on 9-of-11 shooting from the floor.
Andino, the leading three-point shooter in the MEAC, nailed three of his six long range attempts for 11 points total. Dominique Elliott was the fourth Hawk in double digits, thanks in large part to a perfect 6-of-6 night from the foul line.
The two stars for the Howard Bison could not match their impressive performances from two weeks ago. After combining for 52 points in the first matchup, James Carlton and James Daniel managed just 11 points combined on Monday.
Carlton finished with nine points, snapping his streak of 15 consecutive games with at least double digits. Meanwhile, the reigning MEAC Rookie of the Year Daniel scored a career-low two points on 1-of-12 shooting. Travis Trim and Mark Blackmon received praise from their head coach Bobby Collins for bringing the defensive intensity, and lifting the energy for the team as a whole, matching their effort level.
With the victory, the Hawks are now 15-13 overall and one win away from clinching their first winning record since the 1993-94 season.
The game also proved crucial for the Hawks’ hopes in securing a top-four seed in the MEAC Tournament. The victory improved UMES’ league mark to 8-5, leapfrogging the Howard Bison in the process. Meanwhile, Coppin State upset Delaware State in Dover, allowing the Hawks to overtake the Hornets for third place.