Morgan State, which lost its first nine games, made it four straight wins last night with an 80-70 victory over Bethune-Cookman in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
Morgan trailed 46-44 after the visitors from Daytona Beach, Fla., shot 69 percent (20-for-29) in the first half. The Bears shot 43 percent over that span.
But Morgan (4-9, 4-1) ran off 15 unanswered points early in the second half, racing away to a 59-48 lead.
The Bears led by as much as 15 at one point and cruised to the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference victory over Bethune-Cookman (1-14, 0-6). For the game, Morgan shot 46 percent; Bethune-Cookman finished at 50 percent.
Bethune-Cookman's hot shooting in the first half shocked the Hill Field House crowd of 3,682. The Wildcats had lost 12 in a row coming into the game, and Morgan was just starting to come around.
"They played us hard," said Michael Holmes, Morgan's third-year coach. "Cookman came to play. They were extremely aggressive.
"But we showed a lot of character in the second half. We shot well and we rebounded much better -- especially Malik White [who had a game-high 23 points]."
Morgan was led offensively by Chico Langston, a 6-foot junior from Los Angeles, who was the game's top scorer with 25 points. Langston was 3-for-4 on three-point shots.
Langston went into the contest as Morgan's leading scorer with a 13.8 average.
"Langston is fun to watch," said Holmes.
Langston is a speedy point guard whose uniform droops on his skinny frame -- just as his orange socks droop in his shoes. But Langston is quickness personified. In addition to shooting well, he sees all of the court and is adept at throwing alley-oop $H passes.
Morgan also received good offensive performances from White (16 points), Obadiah Johnson (13) and Terrence Wright (12).
Holmes said it is no mystery why a team like his does so much better at home than on the road.
"The officiating is the big difference," the Morgan coach said. "We haven't played badly overall this year. We did lose two one-sided games. But when a small school like us goes and plays at major schools, the officiating kills you.
"The referees wear black-and-white shirts. That's supposed to mean they're not for either team. But the only color they see when they work at a major school is the color of the school that's paying them."
"We played at Georgetown (85-103) and Georgetown got every call. One ref was paid $862 to work that game. Another got over $800. The local guy got $500. They get $50 for car rental. All that influences their calls."
Morgan now goes on the road for four games, the next is Thursday at Coppin. Holmes feels -- with good reason -- his team is collectively in a better frame of mind as it begins this road trip.
"Four wins in a row now," said Holmes. "That's a start. But that's all it is -- a start."