With Delaware State’s star center on the bench for most of the second half with four fouls, the Hornets needed someone like Bell to fill that void.
Bell’s double-double of 23 points and 12 rebounds helped the Hornets end a four-game losing streak with a 90-74 victory over Florida A&M in a MEAC contest. Amere May was DelState’s (5-4 MEAC, 11-13 overall) leading scorer with 24 points.
Gray, the nation’s leading rebounder, picked up his third foul with 16:49 left in the second half. As he was walking to the bench, he was awarded a technical foul.
He sat out for the next nine minutes and Florida A&M was able to cut DSU’s lead to 59-53 with 13:27 remaining. But the Hornets responded with a 22-10 run, capped by Bell’s three with 6:31 left.
Bell, a Caesar Rodney High graduate, finished 5-of-9 from beyond the arc, but affected the game the most with his rebounding — the 12 boards are a career-high.
“I’m probably the second tallest one on the team so I had to do my part,” Bell said. “We just had to adjust and rebound as a team because we didn’t have Kendall in who usually gets all of them.”
“Tyshawn is one of our rocks,” said DSU coach Keith Walker. “If he’s going well then we feel like we’ve got a chance. He came through tonight like the veteran that he is.”
Kendal Williams (Dover High), sparked the run while Gray was on the bench with a three-pointer from the right wing despite being fouled. He hit the resulting free throw for a double-digit lead and the Rattlers never got closer than that.
DelState shot 14-of-29 from three (48 percent). Five different players hit at least one three, including sophomore Scott Sill who had just four career threes entering Monday night.
“I was really surprised when I looked at the percentages,” Walker said. “That’s excellent. The guys did shoot the ball really well.”
Williams was the third Hornet in double figures with 12 points.
Gray (Polytech High) finished just short of what would have been his 15th double-double of the season. He had nine points and eight rebounds.
Delaware State led by as much as 22 in the second half.
“The second half, we didn’t come out flat and that’s very important,” May said. “I think we came out with a lot more energy than we usually do.”
The winless Rattlers (0-10 MEAC, 0-23 overall) proved to be just what Delaware State needed to right the ship.
After dropping a heartbreaker to MEAC-leading North Carolina Central on Jan. 26, 55-54, the Hornets had lost a pair of MEAC games and a nonconference matchup at N.J.I.T. On Saturday, they let an 18-point lead slip away and dropped a home MEAC game to Bethune-Cookman.
Monday night, the Hornets were able to protect the lead despite Florida A&M’s Jermaine Ruttley scoring a game-high 30 points.
“It’s good to get back on track,” Walker said. “The guys were feeling a lot more comfortable out there. The flow of the offense was good and our defensive rotation was a whole lot better. … Hopefully we’ll be able to sustain this.”
WOMEN, Florida A&M 78, Delaware State 63: The Hornets were on the wrong end of a contest that featured multiple game-changing runs and fell to 2-7 in the MEAC and 5-17 overall.
With this loss, the Lady Hornets were denied their first three-game winning streak of the season, whereas FAMU snapped a brief two-game skid.
Four Rattlers finished the game scoring in double figures, led by guard Dawn King’s 18 points (8-of-16) off the bench, while Alicia Jones poured in 17 (6-of-12). Jones also drained four of FAMU’s seven 3-pointers.
In the case of the Hornets, Mikah Aldridge finished with a career-high 22 points (5-of-16), whereas Tierra Hawkins recorded her third straight double-double, 10th overall, with 16 points (5-of-13) and a team-high 10 boards.
Staff writer Tim Mastro can be reached at email@example.com or 741-8224.
Follow @TimMastroDSN on Twitter.