NORFOLK, Va., March 10, 2020 — John Crosby scored a game-high 24 points and Myles Carter came off the bench to add 21 to lead eighth-seeded Delaware State to a 68-64 victory over No. 9 seed Maryland Eastern Shore in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Basketball Tournament opening round game at the Scope Arena
The Hornets (6-25) won for the third time in the last four games, including two over the Hawks, to earn a quarterfinal round meeting with No. 1 seed and three-time defending champion North Carolina Central on Wednesday at 6 p.m.
Maryland Eastern Shore lost its sixth straight to closed out the season with a 5-27 overall record.
Crosby, the MEAC’s leading scorer at 19.4 points per game entering the contest, was 8-for-15 from the field and perfect on eight free throw attempts in the game. 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, Ameer Bennett hit one of two at the line to seal the win for the Hornets.
Carter was 7-for-12 from the field, including 3-for-3 on 3-point shots in the contest. He has hit 12 of his last 13 3-point shots (92.3%) 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,” Delaware State head coach Eric Skeeters, who is 2-1 in MEAC Tournament contests in his two seasons with the Hornets, said. “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 was the better team early in the game, staging a 17-2 run to control the first seven minutes. Walter Prevost capped off the run with a free throw to give the Hawks a 17-5 lead at the 13:06 mark of the first half. UMES opened up its biggest lead, 22-8, on a shot at the line by Bruce Guy 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 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 lay-up by Crosby with 3:02 left, but Canaan Bartley hit two free throws and A.J. Cheeseman followed with a lay-up 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 lay-up 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 were 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.
The Hornets and Eagles also met in the 2019 MEAC quarterfinals, with the Eagles coming out on top 75-57 en route to their third straight conference championship.