PRINCESS ANNE, Md. -- Hampton had one of its better shooting games of the season but had to hold on late for a 63-59 win over Maryland-Eastern Shore on Wednesday at William P. Hytche Athletic Center.
"We made a few mistakes at the end, but they toughed it out and won it," Hampton coach Ed Joyner Jr. said. "At this time of the year, you're looking for wins. They don't have to be pretty."
Nine Pirates scored, led by Emmanuel Okoroba's 13 points and Deron Powers' 12. The Pirates (11-14, 8-4 MEAC) shot the ball uncharacteristically well, making 55 percent (27 of 49).
Maryland-Eastern Shore (2-21, 2-10) struggled from the field early but rallied to shoot 43 percent (22 of 51).
Troy Snyder scored 17 points while Kevin Mays added 15 for the Hawks, who went on a 9-0 run to cut the Pirates' lead to 57-56 with 59 seconds left.
During the run, the Hawks got an open 3-pointer from Snyder, a dunk from TJ Kosile and a layup by Mays while causing a pair of Pirate turnovers. Snyder than made a layup on a fast break to cut the lead to one.
"We picked up our pace and our energy defensively, extended our defense and we were able to get some turnovers at the time when we needed them, and we were able to capitalize," Hawks coach Frankie Allen said.
Two turnovers from the Hawks, however, erased any hopes of the upset.
"We had a chance down one with the ball in the last few seconds, and then we turn it over," Allen said. "But give Hampton credit. They made the plays when they had to."
Dwight Meikle's layup and four free throws from Powers iced the game for the Pirates, though the Hawks' Dominique Cowell made a late 3-pointer to close out the scoring.
"We've got to handle the end of games better," Joyner said.
Hampton shot the ball well in the first half, taking a 30-22 lead.
With the lack of bodies, Allen had the Hawks slow down the game, not shooting until late into the shot clock.
"We did not expect them to slow it down that much," Joyner said.
The Pirates used a trapping defense to open up their lead, and concentrated offensively on going inside, successful to the tune of 34 points in the paint.
Six Pirates had at least four points, and all eight who played scored as they shot 61 percent in the first half (13 of 22), led by Ramon Mercado's five points.
The shorthanded Hawks, playing with two walk-ons, made just 32 percent (6 of 19) from the field and were led by Snyder's eight points and Kevin Mays' five.
After the Hawks' Louis Bell made a 3-pointer to open the scoring, the Pirates, who made 10 of their first 16 shots, scored 16 of the next 18 points to take a 16-5 lead.
However, the Hawks, largely through the play of Snyder, rallied to cut the lead to 20-17.
Hampton then reeled off seven straight points to extend the lead to 27-17, but once again the Hawks cut the lead to five before the Pirates' Reggie Price closed out the half with a 3-pointer.
Like he started the first half, Bell opened the second half with a 3-pointer to cut the Pirates' lead to 30-25.
Following a dunk from the Pirates' Du'Vaughn Maxwell, the Hawks scored six of the next eight points to cut the lead to 34-31.
After a 3-pointer from the Hawks' Donald Williams cut the lead to 40-36, the Pirates scored 10 of the next 13 points to extend the lead to 50-39 with 6:47 left.
The game got testy late, with the Pirates' Aaron Austin and the Hawks' Travis Trim each issued technical fouls.
Allen said that despite the adversity his beleaguered and youthful Hawks keep battling, with the freshman Mays leading them.
"It's just been tough, man," Allen said. "We've lost so many games at the end. ... Sometimes at the end of the day, you're just a little bit outmanned."
Joyner said he wants to see the Pirates close out games better but will take any win at this point in the season.
"I was worried that this would be a trap game for us," Joyner said. "We pretty much handled them up until the last minute."
NOTES: The teams paused for a moment of silence prior to the game in memory of two people with ties to Maryland-Eastern Shore: junior Edmond St. Clair, who was stabbed Saturday night on campus, and Dickson Muiruria, a former student who was found dead early Sunday morning in an off-campus residence. Muiruria was enrolled in the school through December. ... Hampton's women team picked up its 12th straight win, moving to 21-5 and 12-0 in the MEAC, with a 78-47 victory at Maryland-Eastern Shore in the first game of a doubleheader between the two schools. ... This game was moved from Saturday to accommodate Hampton's BracketBusters game against St. Peter's. ... The last time Maryland-Eastern Shore won a MEAC title was in 1974.