Tallahassee, Fla. (Jan. 28, 2013) --- Delaware State completed a two-game Sunshine State sweep for the first time in six years, holding off Florida A&M 57-53 in a MEAC women's basketball contest at the Al Lawson Center this evening.
The Lady Hornets won their fourth straight game to improve to 7-11 overall and 4-1 in the MEAC. The win streak is DSU's longest since the 2008-09 campaign; and the five-game MEAC record is its best since that season.
The win also gives the Lady Hornets their first road sweep of the MEAC's Florida teams since the 2006-07 season.
Delaware State led by nine points with less than three minutes to play before holding off a furious Florida A&M rally down the stretch. The Rattlers cut DSU's lead to two points in the last 15 seconds, but the Lady Hornets made two defensive stops and hit three-of-four free throws in the closing moments to seal the win.
"I'm so proud of the way we kept fighting throughout the game," said Delaware State first-year head coach Tamika Louis. "We knew Florida A&M would keep battling, but the ladies stuck to the game plan and made some big plays down the stretch."
Delaware State's Tierra Hawkins led all players with 24 points and a career-high 15 rebounds, marking her fourth double-double of the season. Hawkins, who was 8-for-12 from the field, has seven games with 20-or-more points this season.
Jade Washington had nine points and a game-high five assists for the Lady Hornets.
"Jade's ball control for most of the game was a key to the win," said Louis. "She's our coach and floor; and helped keep the other players involved."
Delaware State got off to a fast start in the game, opening up a 12-2 lead after a short jumper by Uchechi Ahaiwe with 14:00 minutes left in the first half. Florida A&M pulled to within two points in the half, which ended with the Lady Hornets in front 23-17.
The Rattlers pulled to within 28-27 after a three-pointer with 17:21 left in the second half, but DSU answered with a 6-0 run. Tasia Bristow (five points) capped off the rally with a three-point play to give the Lady Hornets a 34-27 lead with 15:39 left in the contest.
The Rattlers used an 11-4 spurt to tie the game midway through the second half. Florida A&M's Kimberly Sparkman scored five straight points, including a three-pointer, to tie the game at 38-38 with 10:04 remaining in the game.
Delaware State regained the lead, 40-38, on a lay-up by Deanna Harmon (nine points) on the ensuing possession. The Lady Hornets also scored on their next three possessions, and opened up a 47-38 lead on two free throws by Hawkins with 7:38 left to go.
DSU led 53-44 after a Hawkins free throw with 2:46 remaining.
"We've made some positive strides this season, but still have a long way to go," Louis said. "We'll celebrate this win for a short time then get back to work some tough games this weekend."
The Lady Hornets were 11-for-21 from the field in the second half (52.4%).
DSU senior Kianna D'Oliveira recorded her 100th career block in the contest.
Delaware State has three in a row and four of its last five road games.
The Lady Hornets return to action this Saturday (Feb. 2) at home against North Carolina Central. Game time is 2:00 p.m. in Memorial Hall.