Deas and Morgan fly high, bring Hawks down to earth Junior hits career-high 31 to cool hot UMES, 79-66

January 16, 1996|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,SUN STAFF

Maryland-Eastern Shore coach Jeff Menday, recalling how his Fighting Hawks were beaten here last year, expressed serious concern before playing Morgan State at Hill Field House last night.

Menday's fears were well-founded. The Bears, who entered the game with a 1-11 record, and being outscored by a margin of 28 points a game, upset UMES, 79-66, before a vocal crowd of 752.

Junior forward Scott Deas, who was averaging 6.6 points, scored a career-high 31 to lead the Bears, who have been hibernating since Jan. 4.

But first-year head coach Chris Fuller viewed the Blizzard of '96 as a blessing in disguise.

"Everyone else may have been inconvenienced," he said. "But we had a chance to do a lot of practicing and got to know each other.

"We were well rested and prepared. Right now, I'm the happiest man in Baltimore."

And for good reason. His Bears put all their problems behind them and showed poise and patience in thrashing one of the hottest teams in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. The Hawks (9-7), one of the surprise teams of this early season, were 4-1 in the conference and had won four of their past five games.

And there was nothing fluky about this upset, with the aggressive Bears winning every statistic. Most notably, they out-rebounded the Hawks, 40-25, and grabbed 19 on the offensive boards, led by Deas, who grabbed a team-high eight rebounds.

They also forced the Hawks into 22 turnovers, negating any real chance of UMES mounting a late rally.

"Give Morgan credit," said Menday. "They took full advantage of our freshman guards [Willie Grady and Cliff Ligon]."

Actually, the chief culprit was senior forward Aaron McKinney, who scored 21 points, but committed five turnovers.

The game started out true to form, with UMES building an early 20-8 lead. But the Hawks, playing their fourth game in six nights, could not maintain the brisk tempo.

Morgan staged a 31-12 run to pull ahead 39-32 but fell behind 40-39 at halftime.

But with his team trailing 50-48 with 13 minutes left, Deas simply took over.

The Springfield, Ohio, native scored eight straight points for a 56-50 cushion, and the Bears never relinquished the lead.

Two more baskets by Deas and a breakaway dunk by freshman guard Rasheed Sparks boosted the margin to 71-58 to put it out of reach with 4:25 remaining.

"I'd been shooting too many three-pointers," said Deas, who hit two of five. "Tonight, I decided to try for more layups, and everything started to fall.

"But the best thing is that we hung together. We don't have much size, but we've got enough talent to be competitive with anyone in our league."

It was an especially costly loss for the Hawks. John Woods, their main inside scoring threat and top rebounder, suffered a severe ankle sprain with nine minutes left and limped off the floor.

"It doesn't look good," Menday said of the injury.

The Bears will have a chance to prove they've finally turned the corner when they travel to Florida for conference tests against Florida A&M and Bethune-Cookman.

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