Bears 1st in MEAC after road victory

Morgan State 64 Hampton 57

Morgan State men's basketball

January 29, 2008|By Marty O'Brien | Marty O'Brien,Special to The Sun

Hampton, Va. -- Morgan State's best start in 29 years just got a little better. The Bears won, 64-57, at Hampton last night in a showdown for first place in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.

The Bears (11-8, 6-1) moved into sole possession of first place by improving on their best start since the 1978-79 team opened 14-5. And their fourth consecutive victory pushed them a step closer to their first winning season in 20 years.

"Now that we're in first place, I'm happy for the guys," Morgan State coach Todd Bozeman said. "But I told them we've got some work to do. I'm shooting for perfection."

Jamar Smith led the Bears with 23 points and Boubacar Coly added 12, including 10 in the second half. The Bears outscored the Pirates 9-2 in the final 3:14 to pull out the win.

After Vincent Simpson made a three-pointer for Hampton (11-7, 5-1) to tie the score at 55 with 3:19 to play, Marquise Kately scored on a strong drive to put the Bears ahead for good.

Smith made one of two free throws, then Reggie Holmes added two more as the Bears increased the lead to 60-55 with 43.3 seconds to play. After Michael Freeman (13 points) hit two free throws for the Pirates, Holmes (14 points) made four in a row to seal Morgan State's second win at Hampton in as many seasons.

"This was a gut check for us," Bozeman said. "Hampton went up five points in the second half [50-45 with 7:38 to play], and we had to fight through it. That was big for us. It's a significant win and another step for us."

The Bears were solid defensively throughout. They forced the Pirates into four turnovers and 0-for-3 shooting in the final three minutes. And they limited defending MEAC scoring champion Rashad West to nine points on 3-for-15 shooting.

The Bears led 27-26 at halftime behind Smith's 14 points. He made six of 10 shots in the half, including a 10-foot jumper in the lane with 3.4 seconds left to give the Bears the halftime lead.

But the Bears were whistled for 14 fouls in the first 20 minutes compared with the Pirates' five. The disparity irked Bozeman, and he was assessed a technical foul for cursing at an official as he walked to the dressing room at halftime.

MORGAN STATE-Green 0-4 1-2 1, Johnson 0-0 0-0 0, Coly 4-6 4-5 12, Kately 3-7 0-0 6, Smith 8-18 5-6 23, Bolden 0-5 0-1 0, Holmes 3-13 7-8 14, Barnes 1-2 0-0 2, Aujla 0-1 0-0 0, Stokes 0-1 0-0 0, Hemsley 2-2 2-2 6. Totals 21-59 19-24 64. HAMPTON-West 3-15 3-8 9, Smalling 1-4 1-3 3, Brooks 0-0 0-0 0, Woodard 1-3 0-0 3, Freeman 3-4 7-8 13, Pilgrim 3-9 1-2 7, Simpson 3-11 1-2 9, Tunnell 2-4 3-4 9, Harrison 2-4 0-0 4, Ntoko 0-1 0-0 0, Robinson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 18-55 16-27 57. Half-Morgan State 27-26. 3-point goals-Morgan State 3-18 (Smith 2-4, Holmes 1-9, Barnes 0-1, Aujla 0-1, Green 0-1, Bolden 0-2), Hampton 5-14 (Tunnell 2-2, Simpson 2-5, Woodard 1-1, Pilgrim 0-1, West 0-5). Fouled out-Smalling, Woodard. Rebounds-Morgan State 45 (Coly 12), Hampton 38 (Freeman 10). Assists-Morgan State 7 (Green 3), Hampton 13 (Simpson 4). Total fouls-Morgan State 22, Hampton 21. Technical-Morgan State Bench. A-2,445.

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