Next up for UMES is N.C. Central

ORANGEBURG, South Carolina — The frontcourt ruled again on Saturday at South Carolina State.

The University of Maryland Eastern Shore got a huge day from sophomore Ariana Seawell (Bronx, New York) and redshirt junior Mahogany Lester (Virginia Beach, Virginia) in a 58-52 victory at South Carolina State.

Seawell, Lester lead Hawks to first MEAC win

Seawell had a career-high 21 points and chipped in 11 rebounds, while Lester also came up big with nine points, nine rebounds, a pair of blocks, two assists, and a steal in just 23 minutes.

“We continue to struggle from the outside, but thank God we have a post presence that really kind of dominated the game, and our guards did a good enough job getting them the ball,” Hawks head coach Fred Batchelor said.

Lester and freshman Jala Bannerman (Baltimore, Maryland) also each made a pair of free throws in the final 37 seconds of the game to help close it out.

“Mahogany was huge,” Batchelor said. “She got in foul trouble and I think that’s why it was a little closer down the stretch because South Carolina State had no answer to what they were doing inside and we were still struggling to shoot the ball from the perimeter.”

With just 3:47 left to play, the two teams were all knotted up at 48-48.

But a jumper by Lester gave the Hawks the lead before Seawell’s bucket pushed the lead to 52-48. Seawell scored the next basket as well — in the paint on an assist from Lester — to make it 54-50, but the Bulldogs answered again.

Lester then sank her two free throws to push the lead back to four points. On the ensuing defensive possession, Seawell came up with a steal, and Bannerman was fouled with 20 seconds left and closed it out.

“We have to play with a level of energy,” Batchelor said. “I thought the lineup we started with really gave us that — even though they didn’t necessarily play that well offensively. I thought both Ari and Mya Thomas (Chesapeake, Virginia) came in and played well and made plays off the bench. The energy from beginning to end helped us be successful.”

UMES forced 22 Bulldogs turnovers resulting in 22 points and picked up 17 second-chance points despite being outrebounded overall 47-43. The Hawks still shot just 32% (19-of-59) from the field in the contest, which was buoyed by Seawell’s 8-of-11 from the field. UMES made just one 3-pointer in 18 attempts, while the Bulldogs made just one of 20 tries.

“I had to lean over to my assistant and tell them that we have to make sure we don’t get deflated because we are not putting the ball in the basket, which goes for us as a staff too,” Batchelor said. “I thought coach Raikes and coach Monroe-Gaskins did a great job of keeping me up with the struggle we were having so that it wouldn’t affect the kids negatively.”

The Hawks (5-13, 1-3 MEAC) will next travel to North Carolina Central for Monday’s 5:30 clash.

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