The new year for UMES began with a loss, but Wednesday night's 69-60 defeat at NJIT won't diminish the program's accomplishment thus far.

The Hawks (8-9) recorded seven non-conference wins, which are the most since the team competed as an independent in 1980-81. They missed out on resuming their play in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference with a winning record, but coach Bobby Collins said the game against NJIT should mirror upcoming league games.

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"Last night, I told our guys that this team is going to be similar to what our games are going to be and we've got to learn how to respond to that," Collins said Thursday morning. "This team is obviously in unfamiliar territory as far as the success we've had thus far. So this has been very exciting coaching these young men. We've just got to stay focused and keep doing what we're doing."

UMES has already exceeded last year's win total of six, and Collins said the coaches have tried to temper the players' enthusiasm.

"We addressed talking about adversity, and we addressed talking about success," he said. "I told our guys, 'I'm not just going to leave it up to you when I ask you how we're going to deal with success and adversity.' I told them that we're going to deal with adversity by staying humble and working hard and being together. When times get tough, you stay together. And I told them that when we get to the success part, you have to stay humble and hungry."

After coupling a loss against North Carolina Central with a victory over North Carolina A&T last month, the Hawks will take their 1-1 record in the MEAC to Baltimore for a Monday night game at Morgan State. The Bears (2-14 overall and 0-2 in the league) have dropped their past six games, but Collins said he fully expects Todd Bozeman and Morgan State to turn up their focus.

"He's going to find a way to get his team right and ready for conference play regardless of what his record is," Collins said. "He had a tough schedule on the road – as all of us did. But he's found a way, and we're going into his home, and I know they will be excited to play a team comparable to who they are. The team that has the most confidence and the team that does what the coach asks them to do will be the team that is going to be successful, and I hope that's my team based on the little success that we have had."

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