Top-ranked Dunbar built a 21-point lead after three quarters, then survived a fourth-quarter rally by No. 3 Lake Clifton to post a 83-68 victory before a sellout crowd of 6,700 last night at Morgan State University.
The Poets (21-1) shot poorly, but had little trouble with the Lakers until the final period. The Lakers had trouble shooting through the first three quarters and turned the ball over 12 times.
But the Lakers began to click in the fourth quarter. Lake Clifton outscored the Poets, 30-18, to cut the Dunbar lead to 77-68 with 42 seconds left.
But an intentional foul sent Dunbar's Keith Booth, a sophomore forward, to the free-throw line, where he made both shots to give the Poets a 79-68 lead. The Poets got possession and Donta Bright made one of two free throws to make it 80-68 with 35 seconds left.
Junior guard Michael Lloyd started slowly, but led Dunbar with 23 points. Bright, a junior center, had 22, senior guard Terrance Alexander had 16 and Booth finished with 13.
"I didn't think we played that well," Dunbar coach Pete Pompey said. "I think the first half we played better, but fourth quarter we got a little selfish and everybody tried to put it away. You can't do that against a good ballclub. Lake Clifton came back, but we hung in there and gutted it out when we had to."
Senior guard Ronnie Van Hook led Lake Clifton (13-3) with 17. He missed nearly a quarter of the game after being cut above the eye with 3:41 left in the second quarter.
The injury could not have come at a worse time for the Lakers. Van Hook, the Lakers' most talented player, seemed to be just warming up after hitting a driving layup to cut the Poets' lead to 33-20.
"He was rolling and hitting the buckets and going to the baskets real strong. It was a real loss," said Lakers coach Charlie Moore.
Junior forward Anthony Lang added 14 points, including nine in the fourth quarter when the Lakers mounted a strong comeback, hitting 11 of 21 shots while the Poets made just five of 18.
"I'm proud of them; they played well," Moore said of his team.