BRONX, New York — Although it took 50 minutes of game action, the University of Maryland Eastern Shore men’s basketball team was able to outlast the Fordham University Rams for a 75-73 double-overtime victory on Friday night
“I was in a game like this when I was a Division II head coach and we came out on the wrong end of it, so it’s always fun to be in a double-overtime game and pull off the win,” head coach Jason Crafton said. “I’m super proud of the guys because to be on the road against an Atlantic 10 team and make the plays in crunch time that we didn’t make against Saint Joe’s really shows some growth.”
Prior to Friday’s game, the Hawks had not played in a multiple overtime game since 2017 against North Carolina A&T. It was also the first time the program has won on the road in nonconference play in five seasons.
The Shore got out to an early 14-9 lead following a 3-pointer from freshman Chace Davis at the 11:58 mark. The Rams would then outscore Eastern Shore 10-2 over the next three minutes to lead 19-16.
The two teams would then play tug-of-war with the lead until the final minutes of the half. Junior Dom London got a three point play with 2:28 on the clock to put Maryland Eastern Shore up 27-26. Fordham got a layup on the next possession to retake the lead, but it did not last long. Senior Mike Mensah and junior Kohen Thompson hit consecutive shots from behind the arc to put the squad up 33-28. The score would stay there until halftime.
Most of the Hawks success in the first half came from their balanced offensive attack. Nine different players scored for the team in the opening half with 16 points coming from the bench. The team also shot 52% from the field and 50% from long distance in the first 20 minutes.
“We went out and made shots in the first half, but I didn’t like our flow even though we shot the ball well,” Crafton said. “So it was good to see us have more ball movement down the stretch and make some more team plays which we pride ourselves on.”
Fordham quickly tied the score at 33 after the break. They would eventually push their lead to 40-35 with 13:17 left in regulation. The Shore answered back with six straight points courtesy of back-to-back layups from senior Nathaniel Pollard, Jr. and one from London to take a 41-40 lead.
With 6:20 left in regulation, the Rams took a 51-49 lead. The Hawks would score 10 of the next 12 points to lead 59-53 after a pair of free throws from senior Zion Styles with 1:53 left. The Rams took a timeout after that and proceeded to score the final six points of regulation to force overtime.
Styles split a pair at the line 28 seconds into overtime to give The Shore a 60-59 advantage. After Fordham took the lead a minute later, junior Da’Shawn Phillip responded with a shot behind the arc to give the Hawks a 63-61 lead with 3:22 on the clock. The Rams would tie the score on the ensuing possession.
On Maryland Eastern Shore’s next possession they got three the hard way from Pollard to put them up 66-63. Fordham would answer back with a 3-pointer to tie the game at 66 with 1:59 on the clock.
Both teams struggled to get points the next 90 seconds. Fordham had the ball with 33 seconds left and turned the ball over, so the Hawks would take a timeout. Phillip buried a pull-up jumper from the free-throw line with six seconds left to put Eastern Shore up two, but the Rams raced back down the court and got a layup five seconds later to tie the score and send the game into a second overtime.
The Shore fell behind by 73-68 with under two minutes remaining in the second overtime. Styles got fouled with 1:46 on the clock and stepped to the line and buried both shots. Five seconds later, he would get a steal and take the ball in for a fast-break dunk to make the score 73-72.
After a miss from FU, Styles was fouled again with 54 seconds left. He calmly stepped to the stripe and knocked down two more. The Rams would turn the ball over via a steal by senior Donchevell “Tuka” Nugent nine seconds later.
The Shore had the ball up 74-73 with the clock running down, but were not able to score before the shot clock went off. Fordham got the rebound, moved the ball past half-court and took a timeout with nine seconds left.
Following the timeout, Styles would make another play but this time it was on defense. He was able to block his man’s shot and after a review, it was confirmed that the ball went out of bounds off a Rams player with five seconds left.
London received the inbound pass after the review and was fouled with three seconds left. He went to the line, made the first shot but missed the second. The Rams were out of timeouts and could only muster up a long heave to the basket that fell short which ultimately ended the game.
Despite being 3-12 from the field, Styles led the team in scoring with 19 points thanks to him going 13-15 from the foul line. He was also tied for the team-high in rebounds with five.
“We have really been trying to establish Zion in the middle of the floor, and tonight we saw what he can be if he establishes himself in that area and executes,” Crafton said. “He’s a New York guy and had a lot of family here so I was super excited for him (to play well).”
London and Phillip were also in double figures in scoring with 18 and 11 respectively. Pollard, Jr. and Thompson shared the rebound lead alongside Styles with five apiece.
Courtesy: Maryland Eastern Shore Athletics