Grant dishes up Morgan win with eight assists, 21 points Feeds 81-74 victory over Florida A&M

February 11, 1996|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

Paul Grant's long and winding basketball career had one of its finest stops last night.

Grant, a senior guard from Carver High who's playing for his fourth coach in as many college seasons, had 21 points, a game-high eight assists and six rebounds to lead Morgan State in an 81-74 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference victory over Florida A&M.

With the Bears on NCAA probation and ineligible for the MEAC tournament, their season is down to four regular-season games, and Grant is determined to make the most of every one.

"I always believed in myself," said Grant, a physical education and recreation major, "but I'll admit there were times when I worried that I wouldn't be able to get back in school."

A 1991 graduate of Carver, Grant then headed to Pinebrook Junior College outside Allentown, Pa. The school shut down after his freshman year. He spent his sophomore season at Biola College, but when he wanted to leave Southern California, there was a hitch: The NAIA school wouldn't release him from his scholarship.

Grant spent a good portion of the 1993-94 school year doing janitorial work at the Bethlehem Steel plant in Sparrows Point, and was finally able to enroll at Morgan State. For most of 1994-95, he came off the bench, but new Bears coach Chris Fuller saw enough of Grant in practice last October to make him a captain.

"Paul's a bright kid whose whole career has been about making adjustments," Fuller said. "On a team as young as ours, his leadership qualities are essential."

The win snapped a five-game losing streak for the Bears (5-17, 4-7). The skid began with a last-second loss Jan. 27 at Coppin State, where no visitor has won since 1992.

Florida A&M (6-16, 1-11) lost its 10th straight, and the slump doesn't figure to end tomorrow night, when the Rattlers play at Coppin State.

lTC Grant had 15 points and five assists in the first half, when the Bears enjoyed a 17-6 run. His assists included a bounce pass through his legs and a lob for a Jeric Lewis dunk. Grant's three-pointer with five seconds to go in the half got the Bears their biggest lead of the game, 50-34.

The Bears slept through the first six minutes of the second half, when the Rattlers went on a 17-2 spurt that got them to within 52-51. Morgan State answered with a 13-2 run, but Florida A&M stayed close when the Bears persisted in challenging 7-foot-1 sophomore center Jerome James.

In a shot-blocking display not seen at Hill Field House since Marvin Webster was building the legend of the Human Eraser, James put back nine shots to go with 27 points and 15 rebounds.

Freshman guard Rasheed Sparks had 15 points for the Bears, and junior forward Dwayne Holmes added 13.

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