Morgan State rallies, but falls, 69-63

March 13, 1994|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Sun Staff Writer

The eighth-seeded Morgan State Bears ran out of storybook endings in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament semifinals last night. Their frantic second-half rally fell short in losing to South Carolina State, 69-63, at Morgan's Hill Field House.

It was a frustrating finish to the season for the Bears (8-21) who were riding an emotional high after upsetting top-ranked conference powerhouse Coppin State, 61-60, Friday night.

A three-point shot by senior guard Terry Sellers pulled Morgan to within a basket, 65-63, with 22 seconds remaining. But Bulldogs guard Bernard Toatley was fouled a second later and converted the two pressure free throws.

S.C. State then wrapped it up as center Jay Joyner swiped the ball and through a downcourt pass to a Jeremy Faulkner, who was hammered on his layup attempt. It was ruled a flagrant foul. Faulkner made one of two shots, and the Bulldogs retained possession to kill Morgan's comeback hopes.

S.C. State (16-12) will play North Carolina A&T in the tournament final at Baltimore Arena tonight. The Aggies eliminated Maryland-Eastern Shore, 76-73, in the earlier semifinal matchup.

The partisan crowd got involved quickly as a three-pointer by Sellers and two free throws by Chico Langston gave Morgan a 7-4 lead.

Although Morgan had a decisive size advantage inside in 6-foot-11 Gerald Jordan and 6-10 Chris McCarthy, the Bulldogs attacked from the start.

With Toatley leading with his slashing moves, South Carolina State made an 8-0 run to forge ahead, 12-7. The Bulldogs seized every fast-break opportunity to beat the slower Bears in transition.

A rebounding hoop by Terrence Wright ended the Bulldogs' run.

An acrobatic scoop shot by Wright helped Morgan cut S.C. State's lead to 14-13 at the 10-minute mark. But Wright was upstaged by the Bulldogs Deon Murray, who followed a baseline jumper with a layup for an 18-13 edge.

Langston began to get in the offensive flow. His three-pointer and free throw trimmed the deficit to 20-17. But the Bears had consecutive defensive breakdowns, leading to easy baskets by Toatley, Karl Brown and Jamal Brown that boosted the Bulldogs' lead to 26-18.

Morgan was being out-hustled by the Bulldogs and began quickly to lose its composure. The Bears went four minutes without scoring, while S.C. State padded its lead to 30-18.

Langston ended Morgan's point famine with a bank shot. The Bulldogs began throwing the ball away against a trapping defense. A three-pointer by Langston pulled the Bears to 30-23. But a jumper by Cliff Green ended the scoring for the first half with S.C. State leading 32-23.

But the Bulldogs were not ready to wilt. A tip-in by Jamal Brown raised the lead to 42-34. A thundering dunk by reserve center Patrick Scott silenced the pro-Morgan crowd. Joyner followed with a breakaway layup to provide S.C. State with a 46-36 cushion with 10 minutes left.

Jordan answered with a three-point play, but Joyner and Murray combined to make it 50-39.

This time, Morgan showed its pride. McCarthy scored on a nifty drop step, and Langston converted a fast-break layup to cut the lead to 50-43. Jordan then was called for goaltending a wild shot by Toatley.

The Bears' backcourt of Sellers and Langston sparked a 6-0 run, cutting the margin to 52-49 with 5:35 left.

The Bulldogs maintained their poise. A jump hook by Karl Brown, a three-point shot by Murray and a short jumper by Toatley gave them a 61-51 advantage with just less than three minutes to play.

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