DOVER, Del. -- Junior Ramon Mercado came off the bench in the second half to lead Hampton University to a 57-50 victory over Delaware State on Monday night at Memorial Hall that tightened the Pirates' grip on fourth place in the Mid-East Athletic Association. It was the final road game of the season for Hampton (12-15, 9-4 MEAC) and the final home game of the season for Delaware State (11-16, 7-6). Hampton trailed the entire first half and was down 26-22 at halftime. But the Pirates, led by Mercado, went on a 10-5 run at the beginning of the second half to take a lead they never surrendered. Mercado made a fast-break layup and a reverse layup to give Hampton a 36-31 lead. Then he drained back-to-back 3-point shots, with the second one pushing the Pirates' lead to 47-34. Hampton won even though it didn't get much of a contribution from forward Du'Vaughn Maxwell, who dominated the Hornets when the Pirates beat them 85-84 on Feb. 11. That was the best game of Maxwell's career as he scored 29 points, making 12 of 13 shots from the field, and grabbed 10 rebounds. In the Pirates' other 25 games this season, Maxwell was averaging 10 points and shooting 46.7 percent from the field. Maxwell scored just five points in the first half on Monday night and then injured a leg in the opening minutes of the second half. Even though he came back into the game later, he was limited to nine points. Mercaro finished with 12 points for Hampton and Deron Powers and Emmanuel Okoroba added 11 and 10 points, respectively. Marques Oliver and Amare Ray led Delaware State with 11 points each. Delaware State took a 26-22 lead at halftime, with May scoring seven points. The Hornets jumped to a 7-2 lead to open the game and made that margin hold up in the final minutes of the half. Oliver and Albert Thomas each added six first-half points for Delaware State, and Powers and Maxwell each had five points for Hampton. The first half had lots of energy and hustle but not much shooting or playmaking. Delaware State shot 31.3 percent from the field (10 of 32) and Hampton shot 36 percent (9 of 25). The Hornets had five turnovers. The Pirates had 10 turnovers and just five assists in the opening 20 minutes. NOTES: In the first meeting between the teams, Delaware State's bench scored 49 of the Hornets' 84 points. ... Coming into the game, Delaware State had only one scorer averaging in double figures, guard Tahj Tate (12.9 points per game). ... Hampton lost its last game, a bracket-buster game vs. St. Peter's, 66-59 on Saturday. ... Hampton came into the game with an 18-15 record against Delaware State since the Pirates moved up to Division I in 1995, but Hampton was just 6-8 in Dover. ... Before Monday night, the Pirates had a road record of 7-21 in the last two seasons.
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