Morgan women unable to find finishing touch

Bears lose 11-point lead over final 11 minutes, fall to N.C. A&T, 63-59

March 06, 2001|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

RICHMOND, Va. -- The game was going in the same direction of the previous two.

Morgan State beat North Carolina A&T State twice this season by 26 and 33 points, and yesterday held an 11-point lead midway through the second half.

This time, though, the bottom-seeded Aggies didn't fall under the pressure of Morgan State's full-court defense. Instead, they made some critical shots late and pulled off an upset over the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament's sixth-seeded Bears, 63-59, at Arthur Ashe Center.

The 5-23 Aggies will move on to face top-seeded Howard tomorrow.

"Nobody expects us to win, so that is the best part of this all," Aggies center Malveata Johnson said. "What they fail to realize is, during the regular season, though we were losing games, we were only losing by two or three points." North Carolina A&T out-rebounded the Bears (10-18) 27-19 in the second half, with nine coming on the offensive end. The many second-chance opportunities chipped away at a 50-39 Morgan State lead with 10:22 left. Less than four minutes later, the Aggies tied the score at 50, with seven of the points coming from Johnson, who finished with 16 points and nine rebounds.

Meanwhile, the Bears' offense stalled, stuck in a shooting slump that lasted close to eight minutes between field goals.

"They did a great job in the second half of executing their offense and limiting us to one shot," Morgan State coach Gerard Garlic said.

"The last seven or eight minutes, they started getting more offensive rebounds. So we played a 1-3-1 zone. And we just didn't box out. They continued to get rebounds. I was just doing it to change things up, give them a different look. But that didn't work either."

The Aggies took the a 53-50 lead on a three-pointer by Rekha Patterson with just under six minutes left. North Carolina A&T never trailed again.

So how did this game not turn ugly like the other two when the Bears had opened up a double-digit lead by the second half? Because North Carolina A&T had just six turnovers in the second half, and 18 for the game.

"To their credit, they did a better job of handling our pressure," Garlic said. "We played full-court man [defense] the last time we played them. But they didn't have 30 turnovers like they did the previous game. [Before], that led to a lot of easier scoring opportunities for us. But, we didn't have those easy scoring opportunities this game."

Morgan State shot just 32 percent in the second half after shooting 54 percent in the first.

"I thought we executed well in the second half, better than the first half," Aggies coach Karen Hall said. "We were letting Morgan State dictate the tempo and control of the game. The second half, we came out more focused and were executing better both offensively and defensively."

Shakira Smith finished her stellar career at Morgan State, leading the team with 21 points and eight rebounds. Freshman Camile Akins led the Aggies with 23 points.

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