Women’s basketball season ends in MEAC quarterfinal, 49-46
By Lake Marion, SGJC Student News Network
NORFOLK, Va. – The Morgan State women’s basketball team gave it their all in the MEAC tournament on Wednesday afternoon.
The No.7-seeded University of Maryland Eastern Shore Hawks upset second-seeded Morgan State in the MEAC quarterfinal round of the tournament, securing a 49-46 victory in what was surely a close game. The two teams met twice earlier this season where they would split the series 1-1.
No. 2 seed @MorganStateU women's basketball team is upset by No. 7 seed University of Maryland Eastern Shore 49-46 in opening round of the @MEACSports Tournament on Wednesday. @MorganStBears pic.twitter.com/xZhtVtnHbi— WEAA889 (@WEAA889) March 9, 2023
The Bears defeated the Hawks at their home court in their first meeting by 11 points at home court. In the second matchup, the Hawks defeated the Bears by three points at their home court.
This time, the two would settle the score in their final matchup at a Norfolk Scope Arena, a neutral site, and the Hawks pulled through in the end. The game was broadcasted on ESPN+ and the Bears and Hawks battled it out from start to finish.
The Hawks played aggressively the whole game; they made sure that they forced the Bears to take contested shots and forced them to shoot contested 3-point attempts down the stretch.
The Hawks' head coach Fred Batchelor expressed how well his team played in another close game against the Bears.
“I thought that our ability to be able to make some shots, created a cushion for us,” said Batchelor. “Then they made a run, then the game was of the runs. We were fortunate that we were able to make the run at the end.”
The Hawks closed out the game on a 13-6 run after being down 40-36 at the end of the third quarter. The Hawks' leading scorer was guard Zamara Haynes, who finished the game with 16 points, four rebounds, and three assists.
After an explosive third quarter, the Bears struggled to keep their momentum in the fourth, shooting just 18 percent (2-11) from the field, and 13 percent (1-8) from beyond the arc. The Bears slowed the game down once they got the lead back and it would later affect them in the long run.
Bears head coach Ed Davis, Jr. said the team “got a little hesitant” when the game got tight.
“Our biggest thing was trying to contain the guards,” said Davis. “I thought we did a good job in the third quarter. That’s their strength. We just came up on the short end of it tonight.”
The Bears did their best to bounce back in the game. In the first half of the game, the Bears were down by 14 points early in the second quarter. The Hawks had all the momentum and were getting steals and making the Bears commit turnovers that would result in points for them.
That is when the momentum shifted when the score was 26-12 midway through the second quarter. The Bears would go on an 11-0 run to cut the deficit to three points before Hawks guard Zamara Haynes made a three-pointer at the buzzer to end the half to give the Hawks a 29-23 lead.
Bears forward Charlene Shepard spoke about the team’s struggles with starting off early in their games.
“It’s been an ongoing thing for us,” Shepard said. “It was just us being a second-half team and doing what we’ve known how to do all year.”
Shepard is in her final year with the Bears. She finished the game as the team’s leading scorer, ending with 21 points, eight rebounds, and three steals. She is one of four players on the team that is in their graduate years.
Coach Davis was asked how he plans to reshape the team's foundation with some of the players leaving after this season.
“I think we are doing a very good job at trying to recruit in areas,” said Davis. “Our biggest thing next year is to make sure that we bring in players who are a little more sufficient in shooting on the perimeter. I think that will help us a whole lot next year.”
It might not be the way the Bears wanted to end the season, but overall the team did have its accomplishments. They finished with a 17-10 record this season, won 10 of their 14 conference games, and went 11-2 at home.
The team showed a lot of tenacity and grit throughout the entire semester until the very end. Shepard had final words for the younger players before closing out the day.
“I would tell them to stay the course,” Shepard said. “Just trust the process, trust what the coaches are telling us, and really just leave it on the floor.”