PRINCESS ANNE, Md.– The University of Maryland Eastern Shore men's basketball team made an emphatic statement with an 82-64 road victory at Norfolk State on Monday night. UMES (14-12, 7-4) turned in a complete performance to knock off the second-place Spartans, improving the Hawks' position to third in the MEAC.
In the Hawks' previous two defeats, UMES jumped out to a first-half lead before their opponents mounted comebacks, faltering after halftime. On Monday in Norfolk, UMES turned the tables, falling behind early before racing back in front. The Spartans leapt out to a 12-2 lead in the first three minutes, eventually leading by as many as 12 points at 20-8. At that point, UMES forced the action inside to draw fouls and earn free throws, putting together a 10-0 run to cut the Spartans' lead to two points. The Hawks trailed the entire first half, but UMES scored the final five points before halftime, including a putback by Dominique Elliott to trim the deficit to 37-36 at the break.
Despite the incredibly slow start, UMES had played even with Norfolk State, and then the Hawks turned on the jets in the second half. The two teams traded the lead a few times, before a dunk by RaShid Gaston for NSU tied the game at 45-45. UMES proceeded to rip off a 19-2 run over the following six minutes, establishing a 64-47 lead with 9:26 left. In that decisive stretch, the Hawks' top two scorers took over, with Devin Martin and Mike Myers combining for 15 of the 19 points scored. The Hawks kept the advantage in double digits after that, finishing off an impressive victory with an 18-point margin.
Martin paced the Hawks with 25 points, just two off his career-high, proving his impact on the team this weekend after missing three games with a minor injury. Myers collected his sixth double-double of the season with 18 points and 13 rebounds, recording two blocks and two steals as well. Devon Walker added 15 points, while Elliott cracked double digits at 11 points. Walker went 3-for-6 from the three-point line to lift his percentage to a league-best 42.1%. Ishaq Pitt scored all of his eight points in the second half, racking up four assists as well.
The Hawks outrebounded the Norfolk State Spartans by a wide margin, 38 to 26. UMES pulled down 17 offensive rebounds, directly leading to 26 second chance points. The Hawks also made hay at the free throw line, knocking down 75.0% percent of their attempts (18-of-24), including a perfect 6-for-6 from Martin. The team shot 48.3% from the floor, and 36.4% from long range, better than Norfolk State on both counts.
UMES improved to 14-12 overall, and 7-4 in MEAC play, snapping a brief two-game skid on this recent road swing. The victory, paired with an overtime loss for the Howard Bison at Hampton, allowed UMES to move into third place in the MEAC standings. UMES is two games behind Norfolk State for second, while sitting a half-game ahead of Howard, who occupies fourth place and final spot for a first-round bye in the conference tournament.
The win over the Spartans breaks a seven-game losing streak against Norfolk State over the previous three seasons. Before Monday, Norfolk State had won 23 of the previous 25 meetings between the two schools. It was the first Hawks' win at Echols Hall since a 95-88 overtime victory back on January 7, 2001.
UMES returns to Princess Anne for homecoming weekend, hosting their rivals Delaware State on Saturday afternoon. Tip-off is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. at W.P. Hytche Athletic Center in Princess Anne, Md. Hawk fans can listen live on the Hawks Radio Network, powered by SFMSports.net and Fox Sports 960 AM in Salisbury, Md.