Eastern Shore Upsets Top Seed Bethune-Cookman in MEAC Quarterfinals

NORFOLK, Va., March 11, 2020–Adrienne Jones scored a game-high 21 points and Amanda Carney added 14 off the bench to help Maryland Eastern Shore to a 61-55 upset win over No. 1 seed Bethune Cookman in the quarterfinals of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Basketball Tournament at the Scope Arena on Wednesday.

Eastern Shore will play the winner of Thursday’s quarterfinal match-up between North Carolina Central, the 5th seed, and North Carolina A&T State, the 4th seed, on Friday at 12 p.m.

The Hawks (10-20), who came into the game as the No. 8 seed and had advanced following a win over Coppin  State in the opening round on Tuesday, established the tempo early by taking the lead and taking advantage of some poor shooting (15 percent) from the Wildcats.

Maryland Eastern Shore was able to expand the lead to 10 just before the half before B-CU (23-6) reeled off a 6-0 run to close the half and reduce the deficit to 22-18 at intermission.

But the young Hawks, who struggled early in the season finding continuity, responded at the start of the third period and took their biggest lead at the 5:42 mark.

“All season long, we talked about playing our best basketball when we get to the tournament,” Hawks head coach Fred Batchelor, who is in his 16th season, said. “Bethune Cookman knocked us out last year in the semis and some of the young players like Adrienne and Amanda were hungry for this moment.  The Hawks played a tough, hard-fought game against Coppin State that I feel really helped us today. We already had our legs under us and that really helped.”

Batchelor and the Hawks are no stranger to upsets. In 2015, his team pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the history of the tournament, when the Hawks knocked of Hampton, which was the five-time defending champion at that time.

Jones, a senior guard from Baltimore, Md., was 7-for-15 from the floor while grabbing seven rebounds, said that the team was confident from the tip despite playing the top seed.

“There was never a time that we thought that we were not going to win,” Jones said. “We had played them and we knew the task but after what we went through the season, we felt it was time to capitalize.”

Carney supplied several key baskets and was a perfect 6-for-6 from the free throw line, especially down the stretch.

“We knew that they were going to make a run when we had the lead, because each time they would get back in it,” Carney said. “So we talked about key making key stops, hitting our shots and knocking down free throws.”

The Wildcats were climbing uphill all game and despite some frigid shooting (18-for-67 for 26 percent), they were still withing reach at 44-39 with 7:21 remaining.  B-CU played tough defense and forced the Hawks’ Mya Thomas inti an off-balance 10-footer with the shot clock winding down that bounced off the rim and rolled around before falling through the nets as the buzzer sounded. 

It proved to be a pivotal point.

“It is better to be lucky than good,” Batchelor said. “It proved to be big.”

The Wildcats were led by Second Team All-MEAC selection Ashani Hunt with a double-double of 19 points and 12 rebounds, while Daniella Hatcher tallied 10 points. 

Junior First Team All-MEAC selection Amaya Scott grabbed 13 rebounds but finished with eight points, five below her average.

“We were just not able to knock down shots consistently,” Scott said. “Their defense had something to do with that but we missed shots that we normally make.”

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