Title image via FOTOJOE Photography
Courtesy of | Nick Lewis, Maryland Eastern Shore Athletics
Delaware St. 1-15,0-3 MEAC
UMES 9-8,2-1 MEAC
PRINCESS ANNE, Maryland — The University of Maryland Eastern Shore men’s basketball team endured Saturday evening’s bout against its Route 13 rival, securing a 68-66 win over Delaware State at William P. Hytche Athletic Center.
The win moved UMES to 7-0 at home this season, the best start on its home floor since 1996. The team currently sits at 9-8 on the year, the first time the program has held a record above .500 beyond the season opener since 2014.
The hosts used the three-point shot to their advantage in the contest, hitting 46.4 percent of their looks from beyond the arc. The squad’s first three baskets came from range, leading the visitors 9-8 with 12:58 to play in the opening half.
“The three-point shot was key for us tonight, especially versus their zone,” head coach Jason Crafton said. “Tuka Nugent’s four threes off the bench were clutch.”
After trading baskets for the next three minutes, the Hornets used four free throws to power a 6-2 run and take an 18-13 advantage with 8:59 to go in the first period. Delaware State led by as much as 10 in the half, but the Hawks closed the gap with a 16-7 stretch that set the intermission score at 32-31.
“We had a slow start, but showed incredible fight to claw back into the game,” Crafton said.
Down the stretch, both teams saw the fouls begin to pile up. The rivals combined for 30 free throw attempts in the second half, with DSU sinking 13 of their 19 tries and UMES scoring 7 of 11.
Despite falling behind on the glass, Nathaniel Pollard Jr. helped keep the Hawks in the contest late. Pollard secured 12 of the Hawks 19 total rebounds and added 10 points for his third double-double of the season.
“I thought Nathaniel Pollard’s rebounding was huge,” Crafton said. “He saved us a ton in key moments pursuing and securing out-of-area boards.”
The Hawk offense was once again led by Zion Styles, with the graduate guard scoring 15 points for the second straight contest and providing several emphatic slams. Tuka Nugent again starred off the bench, dropping 13 points with four made threes and collecting pairs of steals and assists.
Da‘Shawn Phillip collected 10 points, three rebounds and two assists. Ahamadou Fofana tallied seven dimes, his most as a Hawk and one shy of tying his career-high.
The Hawk defense added nine steals and three blocks while holding Delaware State to 3 of 11 (27.3 percent) shooting from three-point distance.
UMES will begin packing and preparing for their trip to the Carolinas next weekend, facing South Carolina State on Saturday, January 21 and North Carolina Central on Monday, January 23.
Next Game: at South Carolina State University 1/21/2023 | 4:00 PM