PRINCESS ANNE, Maryland — The University of Maryland Eastern Shore had spent the last two games — both losses — looking for the play that had earned it second place in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference standings.
On Thursday night, at the William P. Hytche Athletic Center, they found it pretty early.
The Hawks (16-13, 12-4 MEAC) jumped out to a 29-8 lead to begin the game and never looked back holding off Delaware State 69-58 on senior night.
“I thought it was a tough game and I liked the way we started the game and I thought we made the plays we needed to make, when we needed to make them,” Hawks head coach Fred Batchelor said. “They never went away, they continued to fight and I’m proud of the girls the way they took care of business and it was kind of like getting that monkey off our back because of the way we have been playing and I think this gets us back to the baseline of where we were playing all year long.”
The Hornets (7-20, 5-11) did manage to outrebound the Hawks — a rarity this season — but the Hawks scored 18 points off 18 DSU turnovers.
“I thought the zone was good,” Bathcelor said. “I thought Ksenia Popovich (Moscow, Russia) did a good job in the zone against Najai Pollard, but she’s a beast in there to handle and I was proud of the way Kay played tonight.”
On a night that was all about the seniors, Keyera Eaton (Winston-Salem, North Carolina) led the Hawks with 21 points and added five rebounds and a steal in 31 minutes. She was 4-of-10 from behind the arc and moved into a tie with Kimberly Martin (2000-04) at No. 9 on the programs list of 3-point field goals made with 105.
“I knew Keke would get hot at the right time,” Batchelor said. “Keke is the most dangerous streaky shooter I have ever seen. She can go hot and she can go cold. I told her the other day ‘I don’t know if you remember, but you hit nine threes in a game as a senior in high school. You are capable of just taking a game over, so don’t get frustrated with not making shots.’ There are so many other things she does to help us, but I was glad to see her knock down some shots because that makes us a much better team. If you had asked me who I would have wanted to be our leading scorer tonight, I would have said Keyera Eaton.”
Classmate Ciani Byrom (Winston-Salem, North Carolina) put up 15 points, nine assists, five rebounds and a pair of steals.
Byrom surpassed Hawks Hall of Famer Angela Fowler (1989-92) and moved up to No. 5 on the school’s all-time scoring list with 1,184 points. She also moved ahead of current assistant coach Casey Morton (2007-11) and into fifth place all-time in made free throws with 313.
Senior Ra’Jean Martin (Jacksonville, Florida) scored eight points and added a pair of rebounds and a pair of steals.
Dominique Walker (Bel Air, Maryland), the final member of the senior class, got the start and led the team on the glass with eight rebounds.
Freshman Brooklyn Bailey (Rock Hill, South Carolina) scored 11 points in 16 minutes off the bench.
Source: Maryland Eastern Shore Athletics