Hornets looking to go further in MEAC tourney

 

DOVER — For a lot of Delaware State University basketball players, last season was their first postseason collegiate basketball experience.

The tournament ended in the first round for the Hornets. With a large portion of that team back for this run, they hope to go further in the 2017 edition.

Delaware State begins its tournament with a 4 p.m. matchup against Bethune-Cookman in Norfolk, Virginia today. The Hornets (10-21 overall, 7-9 MEAC) are seeded eighth while Bethune-Cookman is ninth.

Despite making it to the title game in 2015, last year’s new-look Hornets fell in the first round 63-58 to Savannah State.

“A lot of us were young and didn’t really know anything,” said sophomore forward Devaughn Mallory. “It was the beginning for us and we got that experience now. I think we’ll be good and come out strong.”

With only two seniors on the squad this year, the Hornets are still young but all of their starters earned tournament experience a season ago.

Delaware State and Bethune-Cookman have met three times in the MEAC Tournament, most recently in 2010, when the Hornets won 57-55 in the quarterfinal. DelState also defeated the Wildcats 66-43 in the 2005 quarterfinals. Bethune-Cookman’s only tournament win over the Hornets was in the 1987 quarterfinals.

The two teams met once this season with DelState pulling out a 88-82 overtime victory on the road Feb. 4.

DeAndre Haywood

That was the second win of a four-game winning streak for the Hornets. They’re hoping a victory in the season finale over Howard can start another stretch of wins.

“The last time we went on a winning streak we had four games in a row,” said DSU coach Keith Walker. “Hopefully we can do the same thing in a row. Hopefully the win in the last game can springboard us to several more wins. It’s always good to go into the tournament off a win.”

“We’ve got good momentum,” said senior DeAndre Haywood. “We’re in a great position. If we can play how we play, we can put ourselves in position to win the tournament.”

Before defeating Howard the Hornets had lost three in a row.

The winner of the Delaware State-Bethune-Cookman matchup will face top seed North Carolina Central on Wednesday at 6 p.m.

This year’s title game is set for Saturday at 1 p.m., and will be televised on ESPN2.

Delaware State has only won the tournament once, in 2005. The Hornets most recent title game appearance was in 2015 when they fell to Hampton who have won the last three tournaments.

DelState also made title game appearances in 1991, 1993, 2006 and 2007.

 

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

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