Morgan stumbles, falls to S.C. State, 73-59

January 09, 1994|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,Staff Writer

Last season Morgan State was a rejuvenated team after going winless through the meat-grinder portion of its schedule in December.

The Bears thrived when they reached Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference play and, except for cross-town rival Coppin State, were as good as anybody in the league.

But last night showed that last season doesn't mean a thing.

In their MEAC opener at Hill Field House, the Bears fell behind by 10 points in the first six minutes, never led in the game and succumbed to South Carolina State, 73-59.

"We just played bad," said coach Michael Holmes. "We turned the ball over, didn't shoot well and acted like we had never practiced."

The Bulldogs (5-7, 1-1) were coming off a 77-51 thrashing at Coppin no Thursday and were without their best player, transfer Desi McQueen, sidelined with a separated shoulder.

But they came out blazing, sinking five of their first six shots, two of them three-pointers by guard Deon Murray, to forge into a 16-6 lead.

Morgan (2-8, 0-1) never recovered. "We just put ourselves in the hole and never got out of it," said Holmes.

The Bears tried, pulling to 26-24 late in the first half and again to 39-37 early in the second.

On the first occasion, South Carolina State withstood the rally by going to a spread offense that produced the final seven points of the half and a 33-24 advantage when the red-hot Murray beat the buzzer with a jumper.

The second time, the Bulldogs capitalized on Morgan's ball-handling woes (22 turnovers) and cold shooting (35.4 percent) and reeled off a 20-4 streak that pushed their advantage to 59-41 with 7:24 left.

Morgan never shaved that deficit lower than eight.

"This was a big win for us," said Bulldogs coach Cy Alexander. "We've been on a four-game slide and just got nailed by Coppin. The kids came out very focused right away and played hard the whole way."

South Carolina State also did a good job defensively against 6-foot-11 Bears forward Gerald Jordan, who had 31 points and 22 rebounds in the team's thrilling, come-from-behind win at George Mason.

Jordan finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds, but was hardly a dominating factor.

"He was trying to do as much as the last game and didn't do well enough," said Holmes.

Meanwhile, Murray (of Washington, D.C.'s Dunbar) outstripped the competition easily with 25 points as he and fellow guards Bernard Toatley and Emmanuel Flagler controlled the flow.

South Carolina State is "more balanced" without MEAC Player of the Year Jackie Robinson and depends on its backcourt immensely.

"We've got good ball-handlers, so we can use that 1-4 offense when we need it," said Alexander. "And on defense, we never came out of our zone."

There was no need. The Bears entered the night shooting 29 percent from three-point range and lowered that by hitting two of 14.

Alexander noted that the big difference between Morgan and Coppin is "that Coppin is accustomed to winning. They know how to make the plays in the clutch. Morgan has talent, but is still trying to develop that kind of confidence."

The Bears already have outdone last season by getting two victories outside the MEAC. Now they have to find their old touches.

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