Hornets rally in second half to upset UMES 75-71

DOVER — Devin Morgan had to sprint all the way back to his own basket to corral the basketball.

When Delaware State’s freshman point guard looked at the shot clock, he saw there were eight seconds left. His first thought was to drive to the hoop as fast as possible.

As Morgan dribbled full speed down the court, he heard DSU coach Keith Walker yell to pull up.

So Morgan chucked a three from NBA-range, found nothing but net for a go-ahead basket and sparked the Hornets to a 75-71 upset victory over University of Maryland Eastern Shore in front of a sold-out crowd at Memorial Hall on Saturday evening.

“My defender stepped back, he didn’t think I could shoot it from that far,” Morgan said. “I pulled up and I knew it was going in. That was a great moment to get me going.”

Morgan’s heave with 7:41 remaining gave Delaware State a 52-51 lead as part of a 15-3 run that saw the Hornets (3-7 MEAC, 5-20 overall) rally from an eight-point deficit. Morgan capped off the run with another three-pointer the next time down the court.

The Hawks (5-6, 8-18) came within a point two minutes later before sophomore Kavon Waller buried a three from the right side. Junior DeAndre Haywood added another clutch three-point shot with 2:23 left for a 66-61 advantage.

UMES was able to close the gap to 70-69 with 36 seconds left on a pair of free throws by Bakari Copeland. Waller responded with two of his own to bring the DSU lead back to three points before Dominique Elliott’s tip-in for UMES with 22 seconds to go.

The Hornets sent Haywood long off the ensuing inbounds, where he received a football-style pass behind the UMES defense for a simple two-handed jam. The Hawks missed their next two shot attempts, including a block by DSU’s Joe Lewis, before Haywood gathered the rebound and sank one of two free throws on the other end to seal it.

“They guys pretty much played mistake-free for the last six minutes,” Walker said. “That’s a sign that they’re understanding how to close out games.”

Haywood scored a game-high 24 points, which is also his best scoring output of the year and one off his career-high of 25. Haywood netted 17 of those points in the second half and also paced the Hornets with four assists.

“I knew I had to step and be a leader for my team,” Haywood said. “My teammates put me in great situations as you can see. The atmosphere was crazy, I’ve never been a part of anything like it. It was fun, it was a fun game.”

Haywood had missed the Hornets recent trip to Florida, due to a coach’s decision, last weekend — a loss to Bethune-Cookman on Saturday and a double overtime defeat to Florida A&M on Monday.

“We’re glad to see him back,” Walker said. “He’s one of the few with a lot of experience. He did a good job and we’re glad to see that.”

Morgan ended as the game’s second-leading scorer with 16 and a team-high five rebounds, Waller came off the bench, shooting a perfect 4-of-4 from the floor for 15 points.

The Hornets outscored UMES 48-35 in the second half, thanks to a 64 percent field goal percentage. It’s DelState’s first MEAC victory since Jan. 27.

“We’ve been on a losing slope so this is a confidence booster for a young team,” Waller said. “The last five minutes of the game everybody locked in, executed and that’s why we pulled it out.”

While DelState has struggled at times this year after losing four starters from last season’s MEAC runner-up squad, Saturday served as a glimpse of what the future could look like. All of the players on the floor in the final 10 minutes were underclassmen.

“These young guys are maturing quicker than I thought they would,” Haywood said. “They’re showing a lot of passion. Hopefully this win can help turn things around in our favor and we can go on a little streak.”

WOMEN: UMES 70, Delaware State 61: Despite maintaining a five-point lead after two quarters, the Delaware State women’s basketball team (7-16, 4-6 MEAC) saw its halftime advantage disperse in the third quarter Saturday afternoon at home, thanks to the UMES Hawks (7-16, 4-6 MEAC) scoring 30 points on 67 percent (12-of-18) shooting on their way to pulling out a MEAC win.

With this loss, DSU dropped its third consecutive game for the third time this season, in addition to moving to 1-4 against the Hawks in its last five tries. UMES, meanwhile, snapped a two-game slide to pick up its first win since defeating Howard at home on Feb. 1, 62-59.

N’Kayah Kersey (5-of-8) and guard Mikah Aldridge (5-of-16) scored 14 points each for DSU, whereas forward NaJai Pollard was held to just eight points (3-of-8) and seven boards in 21 minutes of action before fouling out.

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