Morgan's rally trips FDU, 76-75

Strong defense helps erase 12-point deficit in 2nd half

College Basketball

November 26, 2003|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

What began as an abomination ended as a defining victory for the Morgan State men's basketball team last night.

After trailing by as many as 18 points early and by 12 midway through the second half, the Bears rallied to take a late lead, then needed two free throws by Chris Grant with nine seconds left to pull out a 76-75 win over Fairleigh Dickinson before 1,456 in their home opener at Hill Field House.

"This was a big win for the program, a big win for this group of kids," said Morgan coach Butch Beard, whose Bears (1-1) looked hopelessly overmatched at times in the first half, when the Knights (0-2) held a 21-6 rebounding edge.

"Coach told us to take it one play at a time and work hard on defense, and that's what we did," said Grant, a transfer from Virginia State via Nassau Community College. "Then we came back and hit some big baskets."

Forward Aaron Andrews scored 19 points to lead five Morgan players in double figures. Down the stretch, however, it was defense that made the difference. After shooting 59 percent in the first half, the Knights managed just 29 percent in the second.

"We really grew a lot in the second half," Beard said. "Our defense was the key. It was effort on the defensive end."

Trailing by five with 2:22 to play, however, Fairleigh Dickinson pulled to within two on a three-pointer by Gordon Klaiber. Then, with 14 seconds left, another three by guard Marcus Whitaker put the visitor up by a point.

But Grant drove toward the basket on Morgan's ensuing possession, drawing a foul on Andre Harris, and made two free throws to put the Bears ahead by one.

The Knights had one last chance, but Whitaker's driving layup with two seconds left bounced off the rim twice before falling out as time expired.

Starting a lineup that didn't include a single player over 6 feet 5, the undersized Bears were out-rebounded by a wide margin early in the game and fell behind 18-4 after six minutes. The deficit climbed to 26-8 midway through the half.

But the Bears finally started to dial up their intensity on defense and make shots, scoring nine straight points.

FAIRLEIGH DICKINSON-Klaiber 6-14 2-3 15, Buch 1-1 0-0 3, Timberlake 4-6 4-5 12, Whitaker 2-8 2-3 8, Edwards 7-11 3-6 22, Harris 4-12 1-3 9, Trent 2-5 0-0 4, Leis 0-1 0-0 0, Ingram 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 27-60 12-20 75.

MORGAN STATE-Timus 6-9 2-4 15, Andrews 8-11 3-6 19, Barrow 5-6 0-0 12, Winkfield 0-2 0-0 0, Brand 1-8 0-2 2, Grant 4-9 4-5 14, McLean 2-3 0-0 4, Terrell 0-2 0-0 0, Aujla 4-4 0-0 10, Berkley 0-0 0-0 0, McIver 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 30-54 9-17 76. Half: FDU, 49-35. 3-point goals: FDU 9-17 (Edwards 5-8, Whitaker 2-3, Buch 1-1, Klaiber 1-4, Timberlake 0-1); MS 7-21 (Aujla 2-2, Barrow 2-2, Grant 2-5, Timus 1-4, McLean 0-1, Winkfield 0-1, Terrell 0-2, Brand 0-4). Rebounds: FDU 36 (Klaiber 11); MS 26 (Andrews, Grant 7). Assists: FDU 17 (Whitaker 10); MS 18 (McLean 7). Total fouls: FDU 19, MS 21. A: 1,456.

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