Morgan makes it three in a row Still perfect at home, Bears roll, 86-72

January 22, 1993|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,Staff Writer

It started with a nine-game road trip for Morgan State, a trek that left the Bears frustrated and embarrassed. But three games into their current four-game homestand, opponents are finding out just how much the home crowd has rejuvenated the team.

The transformation of Morgan State continued last night as the Bears dominated from start to finish in beating Florida A&M, 86-72, before a crowd of 4,175 at Hill Field House.

Yes, it's early in the conference season for Morgan (3-9, 3-1 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference). And yes, there's no telling how this show will play in the tough road venues in the league. But if Morgan State continues to play the way it has the past three games -- in which the Bears have won by an average of more than 16 points a game -- these Bears have just as much potential as any team in the league of making a lot of noise come tournament time.

"They have a great nucleus," said Florida A&M coach Willie Booker. "If they stay healthy and they can keep everybody eligible, they can be a championship team."

To put it simply, the Bears provide excitement. They continued their home dunkathon with 10 last night. Despite shooting just 41 percent and being out-rebounded, 53-42, Morgan was sparked by a tenacious full-court pressure defense that forced 34 turnovers.

Malik White, Morgan's 6-foot-11 center, scored 21 points (10 of 13 from the field) to lead four Morgan players in double figures. White, coming off a 20-rebound performance against Delaware State, grabbed a team-high 12 last night.

"Again, Malik played a heck of a game," said Morgan State coach Michael Holmes. "He still hasn't reached his full potential."

Morgan led by seven at the half, but saw its lead cut to 45-41 after a jumper by Florida A&M forward DeLon Turner (34 points, 14 rebounds) just over five minutes into the second half. The Bears, already short-handed on the front line with the suspension of forward Desi Jackson (Ira Crawley, a football player, dressed and scored two points in five minutes), appeared to be in trouble when White picked up his fourth foul with 13:10 left and Morgan leading 47-42.

But White scored on dunks on two of Morgan's next three possessions, putting the Bears up 53-44. Amazingly, the Rattlers never really challenged White on the inside to get Morgan's only legitimate low-post player out of the game.

"We wanted to go at him and we got it inside the first possession after his fourth foul," Booker said. "We shot a jumper the next time down and we never did get the ball inside."

The result was White continuing to clog the middle. And with sophomore guard Terrence Wright (14 points, four assists, four steals) taking over the game by scoring on a wide array of acrobatic moves, the Bears had a 71-55 lead with five minutes left and cruised to their third straight win.

Morgan guard Chico Langston scored 13 points and had 12 assists and four steals.

The streak has come to the delight of the fans who are flocking to Hill Field House in increasing numbers -- 2,437 were at Saturday's game against University of Maryland-Eastern Shore, and 4,175 were in attendance last night. The homestand concludes with tomorrow's game against Bethune-Cookman.

"I wish we could stay," Holmes said.

Holmes, a former assistant at Florida A&M, knows that the true test for his team will come on the road -- where the team has yet to prove anything. Next Thursday's game at Coppin will begin a four-game road trip for Morgan.

"The road is where the real test will be for us," Holmes said.

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