Wesley Dunning, wearing a mask on his face, made a 3-pointer with 11 seconds left in the second overtime, then took a charge on the other end of the floor to seal an 85-84 win for the Pirates over Delaware State. "I've got to give it to him," Pirates coach Ed Joyner Jr. said. "There's been a lot of ups and downs for him, but he's stuck through it. He's a senior, he's been the leader of the team." This is far from the same Hampton team that started the season by losing its first six games, all on the road, unable to close out tight ballgames. The Pirates (10-13, 7-3 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) have won five straight, four of those on the road, two in overtime and all by a combined 16 points. "The key is resilience," Joyner said. "They're able to play through adversity. I don't think we were ever out of any of the ballgames we played except maybe one or two, but it was hard for us to play through adversity. Now they believe that they can win." Hampton got a game-high 29 points and 10 rebounds from Du'Vaughn Maxwell, but it was Dunning's 3-pointer that erased a Delaware State lead and gave the Pirates the win. "I'd say that it is (a career night), at this level of basketball, Division I," Maxwell said. "(Junior college) doesn't count, high school doesn't count. For here, it's big, but even more importantly, I'm more happy for Wes, for him to be a senior and lead us like that, hit the game-winning shot, that's just big, that's huge. I appreciate him more than anything else. I overlook the 29 and 10, that doesn't matter at this point." Maxwell seemingly sealed the win in regulation with a steal and a breakaway dunk to put the Pirates up by four with nine seconds left. However, Casey Walker stepped up for Delaware State and sent the game into overtime, making two free throws and then a 3-pointer with three seconds left to tie the game at 61. In overtime, the Pirates led by as many as four points, but the Hornets rallied, getting a 30-foot 3-pointer from Amere May to tie the game at 74 with 14 seconds left. In the second OT, May made another long 3-pointer to give Delaware State an 81-78 lead with 1:05 left. A Maxwell dunk cut the lead to 81-80, but May banked in another 3-pointer to give the Hornets an 84-80 lead with 24.4 seconds left. During the ensuing timeout, the message from the players, according to Joyner, was this: "We do it every night. We'll win." And they did, starting with two free throws from Deron Powers to cut the lead to two. Missed free throws proved costly for the Hornets, who made just four of 10 from the line in the two overtimes and 62.5 percent overall (20 of 32). Two of the late misses came from May with 23 seconds left in the second overtime, setting the stage for Dunning. "Anytime you're on the road and you don't make foul shots, especially in a tight ballgame like this, you're not going to win very many basketball games," Hornets coach Greg Jackson said. "I thought our kids were very resilient, and they did a good job of getting back into the ballgame." Maxwell energized the crowd with his play, as he hit 12 of 13 shots from the field, blocked two shots and made two steals. Ke'Ron Brown added 17 points for the Pirates, and Emmanuel Okoroba had 14. Freshman guard Deron Powers had 12 assists and made seven of eight free throws down the stretch. He finished with seven points, as he shot 0-for-9 from the field. Albert Thomas scored a team-high 14 points for the Hornets (10-13, 5-4). Tahj Tate and Casey Walker each scored 13, and Marques Oliver finished with 11 points and 16 rebounds. The Hornets took a 54-52 lead with 2:28 left in regulation on a jumper from Tate. Powers then made four straight free throws to put the Pirates back in front. After Tate made another jumper, Powers found Okoroba for a 10-foot jumper to put the Pirates up 58-56 with 20.1 seconds left. Maxwell showed his worth in a four-play sequence in the second half, slicing through the lane and dunking, which drew a foul, blocking a shot on the other end, tipping in another and dunking on a fast break to put the Pirates up 37-31. The only thing he didn't do is make the free throw after the foul. Joyner said Maxwell is the biggest benefactor of an improving, maturing team down the stretch. "He's the key," Joyner said. "He's the X-factor for us going down the stretch." The Hornets shot 44 percent overall (29 of 66), improving as the game went along, while the Pirates hit 45 percent from the field (28 of 62). The last time the Pirates lost, it was at Norfolk State, the MEAC leader. Next Monday, they get a televised rematch with the Spartans at home. The game will air on ESPNU. "I don't want to say too much too early, but we think we're in a good position," Joyner said. "We've just got to do what we need to do." NOTES: Hampton's Feb. 23 home game against St. Peter's will take place at 2 p.m. rather than 7 p.m. and is part of the ESPN "BracketBusters" series. The game will not be televised. ... For the fifth time this season, Powers was selected the MEAC rookie of the week. ... Delaware State had won four of its previous five games before Monday.
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