Morgan rallies, but falls

Delaware State 52 Morgan State 43


For the longest time last night, it appeared Morgan State might be destined for its lowest point total since it scored 35 in a victory against North Carolina A&T in 1993.

With less than 2 1/2 minutes remaining, the Bears had amassed a grand total of 26 points against the defending Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference champions, Delaware State.

A late flurry pushed Morgan over the 40-point barrier, but it was hardly sufficient to erase a 19-point deficit as Delaware State warmed up for the MEAC tournament with a 52-43 win before 4,793 at Hill Field House.

The Hornets (18-12, 16-2 MEAC) didn't exactly exhaust the scoreboard lights in a slow-moving game that enabled them to break the school record for league victories.

But after an eight-minute scoreless drought to end the first half that left Morgan in the game, Delaware State enlivened sufficiently to pull away from a team that lost four of its final five regular-season outings.

Delaware State's leading scorer, Jahsha Bluntt (13 points, five rebounds), said the team is "mentally ready" to defend its championship next week "but there are steps we have to take to get physically prepared. I guess there's a little pressure because we're defending the title, but we know what it takes to get there."

Morgan (4-24, 4-13) was within 29-26 midway through the second half before Tracy Worley provided an offensive spark for the Hornets, Bluntt hit a three-pointer and Aaron Fleetwood contributed four points during a 16-0 surge that decided the outcome. Delaware State has won 24 of its past 26 MEAC games.

"They know what it takes," Bears coach Butch Beard said of the Hornets, who gave Duke a tough game in the first round of the NCAA tournament last March. "Their defense make the shooting look bad. We played defense good enough to win, but we're just so inconsistent. That's the issue for us."

Junior guard Joe McLean provided the Bears' only consistent scoring, packing 13 of his game-high 20 points into the first half to keep it close. Reserve guard James Reed had eight points, but all them came in the final two minutes, after outcome was already decided.

"Morgan had nothing to lose and they came out with more intensity," Bluntt said. "A lot of us shot bad, so it was our defense, pressuring the ball and using a lot of traps that did it for us."

It was the final home game for senior Tyree Spinner, the football tight end who joined the team for the first time in January.

DELAWARE STATE - Shine 1-3 2-2 4, Bluntt 5-14 1-2 13, Fleetwood 3-5 2-4 8, Dickens 1-4 0-0 2, Roundtree 1-3 1-3 3, Coles 0-1 0-0 0, Brown 0-1 0-2 0, Bush 3-3 0-1 6, Walker 0-0 0-0 0, Johnson 0-0 1-2 1, Worley 2-4 4-5 9, Pejchar 0-0 0-0 0, Miji 2-5 0-0 6. Totals 18-43 11-21 52. MORGAN STATE - Lymas 0-0 0-0 0, Jenkins 0-0 0-0 0, McLean 8-11 3-3 20, Branch 2-6 0-0 5, Spinner 2-7 2-4 6, Reed 2-4 2-2 8, Warfield 0-1 0-0 0, Berkley 1-6 0-0 2, Folayan 1-1 0-0 2, Cunningham 0-2 0-3 0. Totals 16-38 7-12 43. Halftime-Delaware State 21-19. 3-point goals-Delaware State 5-17 (Miji 2-4, Bluntt 2-9, Worley 1-2, Brown 0-1, Shine 0-1), Morgan State 4-13 (Reed 2-4, McLean 1-2, Branch 1-4, Warfield 0-1, Spinner 0-2). Rebounds-Delaware State 27 (Bluntt 5), Morgan Sttae 26 (Branch, Spinner 4). Assists-Delaware State 10 (Shine 7), Morgan State 6 (Branch, Spinner 2). Total fouls-Delaware State 13, Morgan 16. A-4,793.

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