PRINCESS ANNE, Md. – The University of Maryland Eastern Shore men's basketball team easily defeated the UMBC Retrievers on Monday night, 65-52. Sparked by an 18-0 run in the first half, UMES improved to 3-6 on the season and recorded back-to-back wins for the first time since March of 2011.
The Hawks celebrated their regular season home opener with a comfortable win, built on a fantastic defensive effort in the first half. At 15:21 remaining in the first half, the Retrievers scored a bucket to cut the Hawks' lead to 9-7. UMES did not allow another point for the nearly ten minutes with 15 consecutive defensive stops. The subsequent 18-0 run pushed the Hawks out to a 20-point margin until a Wayne Sparrow dunk finally broke the drought for UMBC at 5:45 left.
At halftime, UMES led by 23 points, 39-16, thanks in large part to three-point shooting. Devin Martin and Devon Walker each knocked down three triples in the first half, as the team was 7-for-13 from deep. The squad's overall field goal percentage was at an efficient 51.9% in the opening twenty minutes.
After the intermission, the Hawks cooled off slightly, opening the door for a Retrievers' comeback. UMBC began to hit some shots, using a 7-0 run to cut the lead to 14 points at 45-31 with 11:04 to go. However, UMES responded with a 10-2 run of their own, pushing the lead back up to 22 points. UMBC never pulled any closer than the 13 point final margin with a bucket in the waning seconds of the contest.
Three Hawks scored at least double digits, led by Devon Walker with 16 points. The senior guard with 6-of-12 from the field, including four makes from beyond the arc. Walker also contributed five rebounds, three assists and a team-high three steals for an all-around performance. Devin Martin and Mike Myers tallied 15 points apiece, as well as each player racking up four assists. Myers also grabbed a team-leading eight rebounds, in addition to an efficient offensive display by making six of his seven shots.
UMES cleaned up on the glass, outrebounding UMBC by a margin of 40 to 25. This limited the Retrievers to just three second chance points. Perhaps the most impressive stat from the night, the Hawks assisted on 20 of their 23 made baskets, an extremely high percentage that indicates solid team basketball and offensive execution.
The Hawks will have to keep their top form as they face last year's MEAC champion, North Carolina Central, on Friday night. UMES opens league play against the Eagles, who went 15-1 in the MEAC regular season a year ago. Last season, the Hawks took NCCU down to the wire in their only matchup before losing 66-62 at home. Tip-off on Friday is scheduled for 7:00 p.m at W.P. Hytche Athletic Center.