Bears fall win streak ends at 3

January 22, 1995|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,Sun Staff Writer

The rejuvenation of the Morgan State Bears ended abruptly last night at Hill Field House.

An experienced, well-drilled Bethune-Cookman team supplied the dose of reality, ending Morgan's three-game winning streak, 87-67, before 3,547 fans.

The Bears were in serious contention for about 14 minutes in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference game before a team that gave Coppin State trouble two nights earlier took firm and unwavering control.

"What can I say?" Bears coach Lynn Ramage asked rhetorically. "Bethune just played better and dominated us. Our kids lost their discipline and we got beat.

"But all is not gone. Your true character is judged after you lose."

Bethune-Cookman (5-10, 3-3) overwhelmed the Bears on the boards with a 48-26 rebounding advantage and generally played like a team with almost all its talent intact from last season.

"Our record is very misleading," said Wildcats coach Tony Sheals. "Tonight we executed very well and our defense was outstanding."

The sterling team performance came on the heels of a squandered opportunity at Coppin, still the acknowledged standard for the league despite it early-season defeat at North Carolina A&T.

"Our concept is to put Coppin jerseys on everybody's back [in a figurative sense] the rest of the season," said Sheals. "We tend to play better against teams like that and slack off against teams equal or less talented than us."

Morgan (3-13, 3-3) had some problems with Scott Deas suffering an ailing knee and Terrence Wright slowed by the flu.

But Wright showed no ill effects, pitching in a team-high 19 points on 9-for-11 shooting and also grabbing five rebounds.

"We can't use that as an excuse," said Ramage. "Rebounding killed us, they got 27 points at the free-throw line and they're a very experienced team that will beat a lot of people in this league.

"We just had a bad team effort, just like we had good ones the three games before."

Morgan was within 20-18 when four of those foul shots began to widen the Wildcats' advantage. By the end of a first half, Bethune-Cookman was pulling away, 45-34, thanks to Latroy Strong's 18 points.

"I heard Coppin stopped him [holding the Wildcats' leading scorer to five points]," said Ramage. "He sure made up for it against us."

Strong finished with 22 points in 29 minutes, taking only five second-half shots. He had plenty of help from Lamot Parrish's 12 points and 10 rebounds, 11 points from center Tyronn White and 10 from Richard Leonard.

Bethune-Cookman blunted all the Morgan comeback attempts with solid defense, crisp ball-handling and good passing. Its lead extended to as many as 27 points (83-56) before Sheals swept the bench clean.

"It's been an uphill struggle," said the Wildcats' coach. "After three straight 20-loss seasons in a row, we stopped that and got to 8-8 in the conference and finished fifth. We're just trying to build on that."

Meanwhile, the Bears will try to regroup against MEAC leader Howard in Washington Thursday night.

"There's nothing to do but return to the drawing board," said Ramage.

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