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MEAC Opening Round recap: Maryland-Eastern Shore and Howard advance to quarterfinals

Day one of the MEAC saw two comebacks, but only one team held on for the victory.

NCAA Basketball: Howard at Maryland Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

To kick off the MEAC tournament, the fifth-seeded Maryland Eastern Shore Hawks defeated 12 seed North Carolina A&T Aggies, 74-67, rallying from a halftime deficit Monday night. Bakari Copeland led the charge with 25 points and nine rebounds.

The Aggies looked poised to keep their momentum from their lone conference win over NC Central last week, going into the break leading 38-34. The blitzkrieg from the Hawks came early in the second stanza, where they connected on 10 of their first 13 shots to build a 59-45 lead. During that stretch, Ryan Andino (15 points) made three of his five threes, which sparked the run. The Hawks never looked back, only allowing the lead to dip under double figures at the end.

North Carolina A&T was led by Eliel Gonzalez and James Whitaker, who both scored 13 points.

Up next for Maryland Eastern Shore is the 4 seed Hampton Pirates in the quarterfinals on Thursday evening.

(11) Howard 79, (6) Coppin State 73

In game two of the opening round, the 11 seed Howard Bison hung on to upset the 6 seed Coppin State Eagles, 79-73, to close out the evening’s contests. The Bison took control of the game, building a 33-22 lead headed into intermission. Behind 19 points from MEAC rookie of the year Charles Williams and 17 points from Solomon Mangham, Howard built a 19-point lead early in the second half.

Not to be subjected to a blowout, the Eagles began to apply full-court pressure, speeding up the tempo, and clawed back into the ball game. Dejuan Clayton paced Coppin State with 16 points, but it was back-to-back three-pointer from Lucian Brownlee (15 points) that got the game to single-digits at 58-52 with just about five minutes remaining in regulation.

With just under 30 seconds to play, Mufaro Murinda knocked down a triple to cut the lead to three at 74-71. Howard’s Henry Odunze sealed the deal for the Bison, scoring five quick points.

The Bison will play the No. 3 Morgan State Bears in the quarterfinals.