Morgan State falls 'flat' to N.C. A&T MEAC men

March 07, 1997|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

NORFOLK, Va. -- Morgan State has experienced all kinds of trouble on the road this season and yesterday's loss demonstrated why.

The Bears couldn't locate a hot shooter, their perimeter game was stifled and they played lethargically in losing to North Carolina A&T, 65-54, in the quarterfinals of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament.

"We were flat," said Morgan coach Chris Fuller. "When you're that way, the peaks are about as low as the valleys. A&T played well when they had to and we just didn't have the answers."

The third-seeded Aggies, who have made nine NCAA tournament appearances, advanced to tonight's semifinals against second-seeded South Carolina State while breaking a four-game losing streak.

Morgan (9-18) was 1-15 on the road this season, winning its regular-season finale at Howard.

The Aggies took control immediately and had to withstand only one Morgan flurry. Jerard Rucker came off the Bears' bench to sink two three-pointers during an 11-0 run that resulted in the game's only tie at 41. But Dexter Cannon broke the deadlock with a trey, then scored on the break after Rucker missed a third bomb and A&T had re-established control.

Morgan took an 80-70 victory in the teams' previous meeting in Baltimore. But yesterday Aggies point guard Jonathan Richmond (18 points) was in command of his offense and Bears guard Tremaine Byrd (28 points in the win) was off target.

Richmond has been bothered by a strained thumb on his shooting hand, but said "I wasn't really worried about it today. Playing defense was what I was concentrating on. My shots came."

Conversely, Byrd went 3-for-16 from the floor, underscoring the general problem. Morgan shot 32.7 percent, including 6-for-22 from beyond the arc.

Fuller noted that Morgan "took Richmond out of the game the last time we played, but he was totally in this one. We did a poor job of locating the ball."

The MEAC champs two years ago, North Carolina A&T (14-11) persevered despite a four-point output from all-MEAC forward Kimani Stewart, who was in foul trouble and played 16 minutes.

Dwayne Holmes topped the Bears with 12 points and 13 rebounds.

Pub Date: 3/07/97

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