They waited nearly two months for the chance to play a game before their home fans, but in the end, the Morgan Bears were left with the same result -- a loss.
After taking a halftime lead for the first time this season, thBears went ice cold in the second half, falling behind by as many as 11 points on their way to a 77-73 loss to the University of Maryland Eastern Shore before a crowd of 950 at Hill Field House. Morgan dropped to 0-13 (0-3 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference).
"The effort was good, and at times we battled well," said Morgacoach Michael Holmes, coaching his first home game. "In this conference, a lot of teams have a guy to take charge. We need to have someone do that for us."
The Hawks had such a person, Darrick Purnell, whose 21 points led four players in double figures. Morgan also had four players in double figures, with sophomore guard Steven Haynes leading the way with 19 points.
Morgan, ahead 38-34 at the half, had a 40-39 advantage wheforward Glenn Smith -- the team's leading scorer (16.5) and rebounder (6.7) -- went to the bench with his third personal foul with 16 minutes, 52 seconds left in the game.
Even with Smith on the court in the final minutes, poor shoselection and bad decisions plagued the Bears, as the Hawks scored six straight points to take a 67-55 lead.
Haynes started an 8-0 run with two free throws, and RayloAdams ended it with a dunk that pulled the Bears to within 67-63 with 3:30 left.
But in a key sequence that followed, Morgan's Smith was tied up after rebounding the second of two missed free throws by Jose (( Sandoval and UMES got the ball on the alternating possession. UMES forward Darrick Purnell then hit a three-pointer from the left corner, and on the Hawks' next trip made a jumper from the top of the key that increased the lead to 72-63 with 2:30 left.
Trailing 73-68 with just over a minute left, Morgan's defense forced a backcourt violation, and Smith (17 points) responded with a three-pointer from the key that got the Bears within 73-71. But the Hawks were able to push the ball upcourt and scored on an easy layup by Sandoval for a 75-71 lead.
Smith hit a layup that got Morgan within 75-73 with four secondleft, but Purnell hit two free throws for the final score.