Maryland Eastern Shore Pulls Away from N.C. A&T State
NORFOLK, Va., March 6, 2017--Bakari Copeland scored 25 points and Ryan Andino 15 as Maryland Eastern Shore erased a 10-point first-half deficit and downed North Carolina A&T State 74-67 in the opening round of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament Monday at the Scope.
Tyler Jones added 12 as the Hawks (13-19) advanced to a Thursday night quarterfinal against fourth-seeded Hampton. The Aggies’ season concludes at 3-29.
North Carolina A&T, whose only conference victory was a regular season finale victory over 22-win Carolina Central, made the necessary evil that is the 5-12 game actually sort of compelling when it took a 38-28 lead with 1:56 remaining in the first half.
Maryland-Eastern Shore corrected the cosmic balance, cutting the deficit to 38-34 at halftime and then making 10 of its first 13 shots in the second half to regain control.
“Even though we were down, we kept focused,” said Andino, who was 5-9 from three-point range. “We didn’t let it get to us."
Hawks coach Bobby Collins also went to a 2-3 zone that keep A&T out of its game, limited leading scorer to Sam Hunt to four points and contained fiery Eliel Gonzalez to 13 total points after 1o in the first 12 minutes.
“I’m proud of the defensive effort,” Collins said. “We made them stand around and take some ill-advised three-pointers. The zone took away their aggressiveness and made it easier to slow down Gonzalez.”
Meanwhile, Copeland was delivering a stat line worthy of a First Team All-Conference by being a force inside. He was one rebound shy of a double-double.
“Getting the ball inside is important during tournament time,” Joyner said. “When Bakari has the ball inside at his sweet spot, he’s tough to stop. He was a man-child out there tonight."
Andino, the conference’s best three-point shooter, delivered three from behind the arc during a 15-3 run that gave the Hawks a 59-45 lead with 12:45 remaining. The lead got as high as 19 and only under double figures in the final seconds.
“When Dino is knocking down shots, it opens things up for everyone,” Copeland said. “He can do special things.