Delaware State University men pull out MEAC tourney win

NORFOLK, Va. — The Delaware State men’s basketball team has picked the right time of year to string some wins together.

John Crosby

John Crosby scored a game-high 24 points and Myles Carter came off the bench to add 21 to lead the eighth-seeded Hornets to a 68-64 victory over No. 9 Maryland-Eastern Shore in a MEAC Tournament opening-round game at the Scope Arena on Tuesday evening.

The Hornets (6-25) won for the third time in the last four games, including two over the Hawks, to earn a quarterfinal meeting with No. 1 seed and three-time defending champion North Carolina Central today at 6 p.m.

Crosby, the MEAC’s leading scorer at 19.4 points per game, was 8-for-15 from the field and perfect on eight free throw attempts. His two free throws with 48 seconds left put Delaware State ahead for good and he hit two more with nine seconds on the clock to give the Hornets a 67-64 lead.

After a missed shot by the Hawks with five seconds remaining, DSU’s Ameer Bennett hit one of two at the line to seal the win for Delaware State.

Carter was 7-for-12 from the field, including 3-for-3 on three-point shots. He has hit 12 of his last 13 three-point shots (92.3 percent) and topped the 20-point mark in two of the last three games as a reserve.

“Myles has developed into a special player and a real spark plug for our team,” said Delaware State coach Eric Skeeters, who is 2-1 in MEAC Tournament contests. “You can see his confidence growing with each game and he’s a big reason for our improved play in the second half of the season.”

Maryland-Eastern Shore (5-27) was the better team early in the game, staging a 17-2 run to control the first seven minutes. MDES opened up its biggest lead, 22-8, with 9:37 to go before halftime.

Delaware State answered with an 11-0 run, and pulled to within 22-19 when Pinky Wiley nailed a three-pointer with 7:42 to go in the half. Wiley had five points, while Carter and Omari Peek-Green also sank three-point shots during the spurt.

The Hawks responded by scoring the next five points to open up a 26-19 lead, but Delaware State scored 12 of the last 16 points in the half to hold a 31-30 lead at the break.

The Hornets maintained a lead throughout the second half, but could not pull ahead by more than five points.

Delaware State led 60-57 after a layup by Crosby with 3:02 left, but Canaan Bartley hit two free throws and A.J. Cheeseman followed with a layup to give the Hawks a 61-60 lead with 1:43 left in the game.

After the teams exchanged missed shots, Crosby was fouled with 48 seconds left. He hit two at the line to put the Hornets back ahead 62-61.

Maryland-Eastern Shore turned the ball over on the ensuing possession. Delaware State took advantage when Carter hit a driving layup and free throw with 17 seconds left to put the Hornets ahead 65-61.

“John (Crosby) has been big for us all season long,” said Skeeters. “We was determined to keep this season alive for us. He came up big to allow us to survive and advance.”

Delaware State and North Carolina Central split two regular-season meetings this year, with each team winning at home. The Hornets won the first contest 68-66 on a buzzer beater by Crosby on Jan. 11.

The Eagles avenged the defeat with a 72-45 win on Jan. 25.

DSU and NC Central also met in last year’s MEAC quarterfinals, with the Eagles coming out on top 75-57 en route to their third straight conference championship.