Through 20 minutes, the Hawks (4-7) seemed more interested in heading home for the holidays than hooping it up. The taller Prince George's squad dominated the glass, outrebounding the Hawks 25-10 in the first half.
HCC had trouble solving the Owls' 2-3 zone defense, making only nine field goals and rarely getting a second look at the basket. Reserve forward Andre Brooks, the only Hawks player who showed energy in the half, scored half of HCC's 26 points in the frame.
Leading 20-14, PGCC (7-0) busted the game open on four consecutive 3-pointers - the first two from Louis Benson and the last two from Maurice Bennett (a transfer who played for HCC last year) - in a 1-minute, 20-second span, giving the Owls a 32-14 lead with 7:15 left in the first half on the way to a 46-26 advantage at the break.
"That was very discouraging," Keyes said about the 3-point barrage. "I'm glad the first half ended so we could regroup.
"Usually, this is Christmas vacation for them. I asked them if they wanted to play the second half or just go home, and they wanted to play. They didn't want to get embarassed."
In search of respect, the Hawks doubled their efforts in all areas of the game. They held their own on the glass - both teams had 20 rebounds in the final 20 minutes - and behind Brooks and Thomas Johnson, the Hawks started finding holes in PGCC's zone and getting baskets in transition, scoring 56 second-half points and putting a scare into the Owls.
Thomas Johnson scored 17 of his 20 points in the second half, while Brooks added 10 in the half to finish with a team-high 23 as HCC kept grinding and eventually cut the lead to seven, 87-80, with 26 seconds.
"We had to figure out that zone, and we did in the second half when we started penetrating inside," Keyes said. "We can play with anybody with our quickness, if we play hard, strong and believe in ourselves."
PGCC finally iced the game with three free-throws and a dunk in the closing moments.
PGCC 94, HCC 82
PRINCE GEORGE'S CC (94)
Benton 10, Robinson 9, Smallwood 4, Bailey 10, Benson 20, Southworth 5, Bennett 15, Henderson 3, Owens 2, Terrell 12, Scott 2. Totals 35 19-29 94.
HAGERSTOWN CC (82)
T. Johnson 20, Brooks 23, Wingate 8, N. Johnson 11, Sajery 5, Gaddy 4, Kenley 7, Green 2. Totals 33 11-18 82.
Halftime - PGCC, 46-26. Three-point goals - PGCC 5 (Benson 3, Bennett 2), HCC 5 (T. Johnson, Wingate 2, N. Johnson, Sajery).