Morgan beats S.C. State for first win

January 05, 1992|By Bill Free

This won't go down as one of the more memorable games in the history of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, but no one around the Morgan State basketball team really cared last night.

The Bears broke into the win column after five weeks and nine straight losses, holding off South Carolina State, 90-86, in a game that was marred by 59 fouls and poor free-throw shooting at Hill Field House.

The trio of Bob Barnett, Jay Johnson and Pete Ponnell were kept busy calling fouls, interrupting the flow of a game that lasted 2 hours, 10 minutes without any radio or television timeouts.

But Morgan State coach Michael Holmes said: "We'll take the win. We're trying to establish something here with a young basketball team. We made a lot of mistakes, but not as many as we have in the first nine games."

The first victory of the season gave Morgan State (1-9) a 1-0 league record, tying the Bears with Coppin State for the top spot at this early stage.

The entire night featured an endless parade to the free-throw line, with Morgan State hitting 27 of 49 and S.C. State 26 of 44.

The 93 trips to the line has to be some kind of MEAC one-game record and the 59 fouls probably come close to breaking a record.

Morgan hit 55.1 percent from the line, and S.C. State was only a little better at 59.1 percent.

The visiting Bulldogs were led by Jackie Robinson, who scored a game-high 33 points, including 17 of 22 from the line and two vicious dunks.

Morgan State was paced by guard Ural Hogans, who tossed in 22 points.

Neither Holmes nor S.C. State coach Cy Alexander wanted to comment too much on the officials, but Holmes said: "They wouldn't let us do anything."

Holmes saw his team nearly blow a 46-30 halftime lead in the first 10 minutes of the second half when Robinson led the Bulldogs on a 25-11 tear.

That reduced the Morgan State lead to 57-55 with 9:35 left in the game.

That prompted Holmes to call timeout and settle his team.

The strategy worked as the Bears came out and ran their offense perfectly for a three-minute stretch to surge ahead, 73-62.

But Morgan returned to its old habits in the final six minutes and barely held on for the win.

The Bears were hampered all night long by foul trouble to their three big men -- 6-foot-11, 300-pound freshman center Jarrad Smith, 6-7, 250-pound junior forward Matt Burrell and 6-8, 225-pound junior forward Michael Brewer.

All three players had four fouls at halftime, and eventually fouled out.

S.C. State's Alexander said: "We didn't come to play. We have to work on the mental aspect of the game."

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