Before the season started, Morgan State coach Michael Holmes complained on the record about the problems his inexperienced team would face. But, off the record, he made some bold predictions.
"This team," Holmes said, "is going to surprise some people." The Bears did that last night, defeating North Carolina A&T -- the second-place team in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference -- 101-94, before 1,350 at Hill Field House.
In its best scoring effort of the season, Morgan (6-20, 6-9) broke a two-game losing streak and ended a 10-game winning streak by North Carolina A&T (16-8, 9-5).
The Bears shot 69.7 percent from the field -- they're a 42.1-percent team for the season -- in taking a 51-43 halftime lead.
"And I think our shooting percentage should have been better," Holmes said. "We did an exceptional job concentrating on getting good shots in the first half."
Morgan led by as many as 11 points in the second half after a jumper by Alex Parker made it 65-54 with five minutes gone.
The Aggies, the best three-point-shooting team in the league, got to within 77-73 on the strength of three-point shooting by guards Bobby Moore (20 points) and Glenn Taggart (17).
But Steven Haynes (career-high 27 points, including five of eight three-pointers) scored five points during a 7-0 spurt that gave the Bears an 83-73 lead with 6 minutes, 3 seconds left.
Only a sloppily played final few minutes by the Bears allowed the Aggies to pull to within 96-92 with 40 seconds left. But a breakaway dunk by junior guard Deron Hicks with 20 seconds left helped put the game away and put the Bears in triple figures for the first time this season.
"Any time you make 13 turnovers a game, that's pretty darn good," Holmes said. "Most of those came in the last minutes. Otherwise we handled the ball pretty good."
In was the most significant win of the season for the Bears, who beat an Aggies team that included Boston University (in Boston) among its victims during the 10-game winning streak.
"Although this wasn't as big as our first win, this was a big win for us," Holmes said. "We played with good effort all the way through."
The Bears played without forward Glenn Smith (16.4 average), who missed his second straight game after being disciplined last week. It is not known when Smith will return, but Morgan took up the scoring slack, with four players in double figures.
Morgan will play its regular-season finale Saturday at home against Howard University.