Morgan continues its revival, beating winless Howard, 73-64 Bears' victory is third in their past four games

January 26, 1996|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,SUN STAFF

Their season record is still a modest 4-12, but the long-struggling Morgan State Bears have shown signs of turning the corner under first-year coach Chris Fuller.

Last night at Hill Field House, the Bears picked on winless Howard (0-15, 0-6) to register their third victory in their past four games, 73-64, and raise their Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference mark to 3-2.

Smothering defense was the key as Morgan limited the Bison -- the only Division I team without a victory this season -- to four field goals and a season-low 21 percent field-goal percentage in the first half.

Howard managed one basket in the first 11 1/2 minutes when Morgan jumped out to a 15-6 lead.

"Defense has to be our staple this year," said Fuller. "We're probably smaller than every team we play, and we're limited offensively."

The limitations were apparent in the first half when Morgan struggled (9-for-26 from the field), going nine minutes without a basket in one stretch. But the Bears still led at the break, 26-17.

Three quick three-point shots by sophomore guard Jerard Rucker (Cardinal Gibbons) and six points from freshman guard Rasheed Sparks boosted the spread to 57-40 with 6:23 left.

Howard's trapping defense forced Morgan into repeated turnovers in the closing minutes, and some acrobatic driving shots by flashy freshman guard Jabari Outtz (22 points) trimmed the margin to 60-53 with 2:40 left.

After Bison forward Anthony Brown missed a wide-open three-point shot, senior Scott Deas found room in the lane for a driving layup and added a free throw to give the Bears a 63-53 cushion.

Howard kept scratching back, using a three-pointer by Outtz to make it 67-62 with 17 seconds left. But Deas was fouled in the backcourt and made two free throws to finally put the game away.

"Playing with a big lead is still virgin territory for us," said Fuller. "We didn't know how to handle it. We're still learning how to be successful."

The Bears showed a balanced offense, led by Deas' 18 points. Rucker and Sparks added 14 each, and guard Paul Grant had 10.

Howard, which has dropped 20 straight dating back to last season, was minus senior forward Phil Chenier Jr., its second-leading scorer and rebounder. Chenier is sidelined with a sprained knee ligament and is expected to miss at least three more games.

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