Norfolk, Va.(Mar. 9, 2015) — Delaware State has advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2015 MEAC Tournament after holding off Savannah State 64-58 at the Scope Arena this evening. The fifth- seeded Hornets will face No. 4 Howard in a round of eight contest on Thursday at 8 p.m.
Delaware State trailed 26-25 at the break, but rallied to build a 44-32 lead after a three-pointer by Aric Dickerson with 13:34 left to play.
No. 12 Savannah State chipped away at the deficit, and pulled to within a point on two occasions in the final minute.
Tyshawn Bell and Amere May hit two free throws and Kendall Gray nailed one in the last 10 seconds to secure the win for the Hornets.
May led all players with 26 points, his ninth straight 20-point game and 22nd in a row in double figures. He has 612 points this season, the fourth player in team history to surpass the 600-point mark in a season.
Gray had eight points to surpass the 1000-point mark for his career (1003). He also led all players with 12 rebounds to give him 803 at DSU, becoming the fourth Hornet to reach 1000 points and 800 rebounds in a career.
Tyshawn Bell was second on the Hornets with 14 points, while freshman Todd Hughes came off the bench to add 11.
Alante Fenner was high scorer for Savannah State with 15 points.
“I’m proud of our guys for weathering the storm against a well-coached Savannah State team that played extremely hard tonight,” said Delaware State head coach Keith Walker, who improved to 1-1 in the MEAC Tournament with the Hornets. “Despite some adversity we were able to pull together and survive to the next round.”
The Hornet win was tempered by an ankle injury to starting guard Kendal Williams, who did not return to the game after going down following a basket on his only shot with 17:04 left in the first half. His status for Thursday’s quarterfinal is uncertain.
Savannah State started quickly in the game, hitting its first three shots to open up a 6-2 lead. The Tigers led by eight on two occasions in the first half, the last time following back-to-back lay-ups by Khalen Pinkett to pull ahead 23-15.
The Hornets answered with a 9-0 run, and pulled ahead 24-23 on a lay-in by May, who scored five points and Hughes four during the spurt.
Delaware State scored 11 of the first 13 points of the second half, and opened up a 36-28 lead after two free throws by Bell with 15:54 left to play.
The Hornets led 57-49 when Fenner hit a lay-up and Javaris Jenkins nailed a three-pointer on consecutive possessions to pull the Tigers to within 57-54 .
After a Delaware State turnover, another basket by Fenner cut DSU’s lead to 57-56 with 44 seconds remaining.
Hughes gave the Hornets a three-point lead, 59-56, on a driving lay-up, but Savannah State’s Terel Hall responded with a basket on the ensuing possession to pull the Tigers to within one again.
Delaware State shot 52.2% for the game, hitting 24 of its 46 shots from the field. The Hornets were five-for-14 on three-point shots (35.7%).
Savannah State hit 26-of-its 64 shots from the floor (40.6%), but just six-of-27 from beyond the arc (22.2%).
The Hornets were 11-for-20 at the foul line, while SSU did not attempt a free throw in the contest.
The Tigers won the rebound battle 37-30; and committed fewer turnovers. SSU turned the ball over 10 times, compared to 12 for the Hornets.
“I got off to a slow start, but fortunately my teammates were able to pick up the slack,” said May, who raised his MEAC-leading average to 21.1 points per game with Monday’s performance. “Todd (Hughes) came off the bench to give us a big lift.”
Thursday’s quarterfinal will be the 12th MEAC Tournament meeting between Delaware State and Howard. The Bison hold an 8-3 lead in tournament contests, although the Hornets won the last post-season meeting 73-61 in 2013.
The teams met just once during the 2014-15 regular season. Delaware State pulled out a 79-76 win on Jan. 12 at Howard’s Burr Gymnasium. May hit a driving lay-up with 11 seconds left for the go-ahead basket and hit two free throws with less than a second remaining to lift the Hornets to the win. Hughes came off the bench to score a career-high 25 points in the regular season contest at Howard.
Delaware State (16-16) has won its last three games to match a season-high. Savannah State ends its season at 9-22.
Gray also had four blocks in the contest, marking the 33rd time in his career with at least that many … he now has a school-record 297 career blocks … May has hit at least one three-pointer in 25 straight games.
Courtesy: Del State Athletics