Morgan St. misses shot vs. Hampton

Bears unable to contain Pirates' Williams, convert down stretch in 72-67 loss

January 07, 2001|By FROM STAFF REPORTS

Morgan State ignored the chance to turn its season around yesterday, suffering a 72-67 home loss to Hampton.

Bears coach Chris Fuller struggled to find positives in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference loss. Of the negatives, he found a bitter experience in his team's inability to deal with Hampton center Tarvis Williams, who finished with 26 points, 10 rebounds and six blocked shots.

"This team has got to find some character and some intestinal fortitude," Fuller said, sparing four of his five inside players, indicting everyone else. "We tried to get cute against Tarvis. ... You have to be strong in this game."

Despite that, Morgan State (2-8, 1-3 MEAC) shot 53 percent in the second half and was within one basket of the Pirates (8-3, 3-1) for most of the last five minutes of the game.

But after the Pirates turned the ball over with 4:58 left and a 62-60 lead, freshman guard Cedric Barrow missed the front end of a one-and-one for the Bears. Michael Canady deflected a Hampton pass for another Morgan possession, but that ended on a traveling call against Curtis King.

After five bad trips with the ball, Morgan scored twice in a row, narrowing Hampton's lead to 66-65 on a jumper by Anton Jenifer with 33 seconds left.

Jenifer's shot could have easily been called a three-pointer, but Fuller was more perplexed when, trailing 68-65 with 29 seconds left, his team's plans for tying the game ended in a jumper by Reggie Winkfield, who had missed eight of nine shots up to that point. When that shot also missed with 14 seconds left, Morgan's final chance to win went with it.

Fuller shook his head over his team's final attempts to wrest the lead.

"When you have the early-season schedule that we had, it's difficult to learn how to win," Fuller said, referring to games against Florida State and Georgia Tech from the ACC. "But we had our chances to win and we didn't do it."

Before the game began, the Bears already had a boost. Hampton's star point guard, Marseilles Brown, was serving a mandatory one-game suspension for his part in a fight during a game against Chicago State on Dec. 29.

With the Pirates starting freshman Donald Didlake in Brown's absence, the Bears went on a 12-2 run to take an early lead, but gave it back when they couldn't hit the open outside shots off Hampton's zone defense.

With nearly everyone back from last season's 17-12 team, the Pirates were picked to win the MEAC. The team's success in nonconference play hasn't given any reason to doubt that prediction.

"Last year, the chemistry wasn't there," Williams said of a team that had only four returning players. "In the off-season and preseason, we've been playing together, and the chemistry is starting to be there."

With the game tied at halftime, the Bears took a brief lead, but were forced to play catch-up after the Pirates went on an 8-0 run to go ahead, 41-34, with 16:54 to go. Morgan State stayed on Hampton's heels the rest of the way, tying or coming within a point on seven occasions.

Hampton coach Steve Merfield, said his team's experience has helped in those situations, as it has gone 7-2 in games decided in the last five minutes.

"The players are more familiar with the staff and with each other," Merfield said. "That experience leads teams to step up in the final minutes of games."

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