Iona takes air out of Morgan State, 77-67

Bears unable to build on weekend victory

January 20, 2000|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

If nothing else, Morgan State's game against Iona last night was a blessing in that a team from another conference would come to visit Hill Field House.

"This is what you want," Bears coach Chris Fuller said. "If I could schedule it every year, I would."

But the problem for Morgan State in its night off from Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference play was that there wasn't much else in a 77-67 loss before 3,215 that eliminated any momentum from Saturday's win over Maryland-Eastern Shore.

In the last part of a two-game break from Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play, Iona (7-9) had six players in double figures, shot 51 percent from the floor and held steady after an early 13-2 run established its cushion over the Bears (2-12).

"It's just a shame that we didn't take advantage of this opportunity," Fuller said.

Yes, Fuller said he was happy with his team's defense in half-court situations. But Morgan State's downfall came in its inability to defend against fast and secondary breaks by the Gaels.

Yes, the Bears got decent looks on offense and shot the 15 three-pointers that they generally like to take. But the team hit only two of the long-range shots (13 percent) and shot 36 percent overall, contributing to Iona's 45-28 rebounding advantage.

"That's sickening, to get pounded like that on the glass," Fuller said. "But there were a lot of defensive rebounds for them to snatch, so they had a lot."

The spectators had little choice but to gasp at Iona's plays, most notably a behind-the-head, alley-oop dunk by guard Leland Norris with 8: 52 left in the first half.

The obligatory, but brief, burst of applause wasn't enough to suit this crowd, which continued with 10 seconds of howling and a heavy murmur that lasted three minutes.

"I was really surprised by that," said Norris, who led Iona with 13 points, as did Tariq Kirksay, Ivo Kresta, Norris and Dyree Wilson. "Usually, if that happens in a another team's gym, there are oohs and ahhs, but you don't expect to hear a roar."

It was two points in the Gaels' game-breaking run, which began from a 12-12 tie at the 12: 01 mark and ended six scorers and 5: 11 later with Morgan State trailing, 25-14.

By halftime, Iona's lead was 38-29, and the rest of the game was a basket-trading affair in which the margin stayed between seven and 12 points for all but 3: 46 of the second half.

"Bring in Norfolk State," Fuller said of a game this Saturday, aware that his team's only two wins have been at home against MEAC teams. "It seems like these guys only get up for conference games."

Michael Canady led the Bears with 16 points.

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