SC State tops Maryland Eastern Shore in MEAC Tournament quarterfinals
NORFOLK, Va.– South Carolina State led by 16 at the half, and the No. 9 seed Bulldogs weathered a poor-shooting second half on the way to a 63-54 win over No. 8 seed Maryland Eastern Shore on Tuesday evening in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Basketball Tournament quarterfinals at Scope Arena.
The Bulldogs shot just 31 percent in the second stanza and saw a 19-point advantage dwindle all the way down to two late in the game. But South Carolina State (8-25) sealed it at the free throw line to advance to the quarterfinal round.
There, the Bulldogs will meet No. 1 seed Norfolk State on Wednesday at 6 p.m.
Maryland Eastern Shore saw its season come to a close at 7-25.
Janai Raynor-Powell led the Bulldogs with 15 points, including four straight free throws in the closing minute and a half of the contest. South Carolina State sank 10 of 12 from the free throw line during that time for the final margin.
The Bulldogs had to sweat it out, however, following Allen Hatchett Jr.’s corner trey that put them up by 19 to start the second half. The Hawks took control over the next five minutes, scoring 15 straight points to whittle S.C. State’s lead down to just four, 41-37. Bryan Uruttia had six points during that time, but MDES then went scoreless over the next three and a half minutes.
A pair of free throws from Damani Applewhite put the Bulldogs back up by 10 with 11 minutes to go, but the Hawks had another key run in them. Over an eight-minute span, they outscored S.C. State by a 12-4 margin. The Bulldogs missed seven of their eight field goal attempts during that time and had five turnovers as well as their lead shrank to 51-49 with two minutes left in the contest.
But Jahmari Etienne’s long jumper from the left wing gave S.C. State some breathing room before the Bulldogs scored the last 10 points from the charity stripe. They finished the contest 20-of-26 from the foul line.
Uruttia led the Hawks with 14 points, six rebounds, five assists and four steals. Isaac Taylor also reached double figures with 12 points on 6-of-8 shooting.
Applewhite, a Second Team All-MEAC selection this year, sparked the Bulldogs early in the game with a couple of midrange jumpers. The Bulldogs hit 3-pointers on three straight possessions, the first two from Raynor-Powell, for a 19-5 lead at the 12:39 mark. The Hawks called timeout at that time looking to end an 11-0 SCSU run.
They did just that, scoring 11 of the next 16 points to make it an eight-point ballgame. A pair of layups by Colen Gaynor and Gabriel Gyamfi closed out the run for the Hawks and made it 26-18 in favor of S.C. State with 7:51 to go before the half.
But Ozante Fields and Ian Kinard each had 3-point plays for the Bulldogs during a 12-2 spurt, and they went into the locker room up 38-22. They shot 50 percent in the first 20 minutes of the game and 43 percent for the night.
Applewhite finished with a double-double of 10 points and 12 rebounds, helping S.C. State control the glass, 38-29. Etienne made both of his 3-point attempts and was 3-of-4 from the field for 10 points.
The Bulldogs did finish with 15 turnovers, and Maryland Eastern Shore held a sizeable advantage in points off turnovers, 20-7. Ten of S.C. State’s 15 turnovers came in the second half.
VIDEO COURTESY: WMDT