Free throws send Morgan men to overtime loss

Del. State ends Bears' run in MEAC

Delaware State 56 Morgan State 53

March 10, 2007|By Kristian Pope | Kristian Pope,Special to The Sun

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Todd Bozeman's reclamation project at Morgan State was less than two minutes from reaching another day at the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament yesterday.

But with 1.1 seconds left in overtime, Bozeman quickly grabbed for his dry-erase board where, instead of drawing up a final play, he'll settle for drawing plans for next season.

Bozeman, in his first season at Morgan State after his eight-year ban from college coaching, will do that so-called planning with the knowledge his fifth-seeded Bears nearly handed Delaware State (21-11), the league's top-seeded team, the upset of the year before settling for a 56-53 overtime loss in the semifinals at the RBC Center.

With 1.1 seconds remaining, Hornets junior Roy Bright made three free throws to give Delaware State its go-ahead points and earn the Hornets a place in their third straight MEAC championship game tonight at 6 against No. 2 seed Florida A&M, a 74-66 winner last night over North Carolina A&T.

How Bright got to the line was a source of contention from Bozeman and his players. Some players ripped off their jerseys after the final buzzer and stormed off the court in disgust.

"It's a tough way to lose a game," an animated Bozeman said. "That's tough to lose it on free throws."

Morgan State (13-18) for the second night in a row pushed its higher-seeded opponent to overtime. The Bears beat No. 4 seed South Carolina State in Thursday's quarterfinal round.

Boubacar Coly led the Bears with 22 points and Jamar Smith added 16.

Bright, a native of nearby Durham, N.C., was the Hornets' main scorer on a night when Morgan State held league Player of the Year Jahsha Bluntt to 2-for-7 from the field.

Bright scored a career-high 30 points on 8-for-18 shooting (4-for-7 on three-pointers). He made even more noise at the free-throw line, where he was 10-for-12.

None were bigger than Bright's trio in the waning moments of overtime.

Morgan State led 53-48 with 1:45 left in overtime and Delaware State crept back with a three-pointer from Bright with 1:38 left. After a put-back behind a miss by senior forward Elyon Bush, the Hornets looked like they'd fumble their final possession.

With the final seconds ticking away, Bright backed into the corner, in front of his bench, and made contact with Coly. Bright threw his arms up as if he took a shot and Coly was called for the foul with 1.1 seconds on the clock.

Bright made all three shots and Bozeman reached for his board to draw up a potentially game-winning play. But a court-length inbounds pass from the Bears' Ronald Timus was picked off by Bright to end the game.

"No, I didn't think it was a foul," said Coly, who was 8-for-10 from the field. "[Bright] threw his hand up and the ref gave him the foul."

Said Hornets coach Greg Jackson: "I thought he was fouled. The ref made a tough call, but the right one. It was the right call."

MORGAN STATE-Timus 3-7 2-3 8, Coly 8-10 6-7 22, McLean 1-6 0-0 2, Barnes 0-1 0-0 0, Berkley 1-1 0-0 2, Green 0-1 1-2 1, Holmes 0-5 2-2 2, Bright 0-0 0-0 0, Smith 6-11 4-6 16. Totals 19-42 15-20 53. DELAWARE STATE-Shine 3-9 0-0 6, Bluntt 2-7 4-6 10, Fleetwood 2-6 0-0 4, Roundtree 0-2 0-2 0, Bright 8-18 10-12 30, Bush 2-6 0-0 4, Hrga 0-0 0-0 0, White 1-2 0-0 2, Neal 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 18-50 14-20 56. Half-Tied 20. End of regulation-Tied 42. 3-point goals-Morgan State 0-9 (Coly 0-1, Barnes 0-1, Green 0-1, Holmes 0-1, Smith 0-2, McLean 0-3), Delaware State 6-19 (Bright 4-7, Bluntt 2-5, Fleetwood 0-3, Shine 0-4). Fouled out-Fleetwood. Rebounds-Morgan State 33 (Coly 13), Delaware St. 28 (Bluntt, Bright, Fleetwood 5). Assists-Morgan State 6 (Green 2), Delaware State 8 (Shine 6). Total fouls-Morgan State 18, Delaware State 16. A-N/A.

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