Bethune-Cookman ends Hornets’ season 69-62 at MEAC tourney

NORFOLK, Va. — Delaware State fought back from a 10-point second half deficit to tie the score, but faltered down the stretch in a 69-62 loss to Bethune-Cookman Tuesday in the opening round of the MEAC Tournament at the Scope Arena.

The Hornets, seeded eighth in the tourney, end the 2016-17 season with a 10-22 overall record. The ninth seeded Wildcats (10-21) advance to face No. 1 North Carolina Central in the tournament quarterfinals on Wed. at 5 p.m. Bethune-Cookman also avenged an 88-82 overtime loss to Delaware State during the regular season.

“If you had told me that three of our starters would combine for 12 points, I would’ve taken that bet,” said Delaware State head coach Keith Walker, who fell to 3-4 in MEAC Tournament games. “We picked the worst time to have a bad shooting night. The guys played hard, especially on defense, but we just couldn’t get enough shots to fall.”

Brandon Tabb led three Wildcats in double figures with a game-high 21 points, highlighted by 8-for-8 shooting at the free throw line. BCU’s Reggie Baker added 20 points (4-8 3pt. FGs), while teammate Diamonte Lewis chipped in with 19 (6-10 FGs; 3-4 3pt. FGs).

DeVaughn Mallory led Delaware State with 16 points (6-12 FGs) and nine rebounds. Senior Mrdjan Gasevic scored a career-high 13 points (5-7 FGs) in his final game for the Hornets. DSU freshman Kobe Gantz came off the bench to add 12 points.

Delaware State totaled 23 field goals (23-64), while Bethune-Cookman tallied 18 (18-52), however, three-point shooting and free throws were key to the Wildcats’ victory.

BCU nailed 10 three-pointers on 27 attempts (37.0%), while the Hornets were just 4-for-19 from beyond the arc (21.1%).

The Wildcats were also 23-for-27 at the free throw line (85.2%). Delaware State hit 12 of its 19 free throw attempts (63.2%).

Each team held six-point first half leads, but Delaware State took a 29-27 advantage into the locker room at the break.

The Wildcats outscored the Hornets 17-5 to start the second half, and opened up a 44-34 lead on a three-pointer by Lewis with 11:59 left to play. Baker scored nine points and Lewis six during the BCU rally.

Bethune-Cookman led 48-38 before the Hornets rallied back.

Gantz capped off a 12-2 Delaware State run with a three-point basket to tie the game at 50-50 at the 5:02 mark of the second half.

The Wildcats responded with a 6-0 spurt, and pulled ahead 56-50 on a lay-up by Lewis with 4:00 left to play. BCU opened up the biggest lead of the game, 69-57, in the final minute.

Delaware State’s leading scorer on the season, Devin Morgan, was held to five points on 2-of-15 shooting, while the Hornets’ second-best scorer, DeAndre Haywood, had one point (0-2) before leaving the game in the second half with an ankle injury. Kavon Waller, DSU’ s fourth-leading scorer, scored six points (2-6 FGs).

Reach the Delaware State News newsroom at newsroom@newszap.com

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.