Thompson's boards boost Bears

Forward finishes with career-high 23 points, 25 rebounds to rally Morgan from early deficit

  • Towson's Robert Nwankwo, left, slams a dunk over Morgan State's Kevin Thompson. "He was huge," Bears coach Todd Bozeman said about Thompson, who had career-highs of 23 points and 25 rebounds in Morgan State's 87-80 victory over the Tigers.
Towson's Robert Nwankwo, left, slams a dunk over Morgan… (Baltimore Sun photo by Kenneth…)
December 23, 2009|By Rich Scherr | Special to The Baltimore Sun

There's seemingly little these days that can keep Morgan State from finding success on its home court. On Tuesday night, not even a blazing-hot start by cross-town rival Towson was enough to do the trick.

Down by as much as 13 early, the host Bears quickly turned the tide, dominating inside and scoring on numerous second-chance opportunities before holding off a late charge in an 87-80 win at Hill Field House.

Six-foot-eight sophomore Kevin Thompson finished with career-highs of 23 points and 25 rebounds for the Bears (7-4), who improved to 27-5 at home under head coach Todd Bozeman. Guard Reggie Holmes, who entered the night ranked second in the nation in scoring (25.1 ppg), finished with 20 after scoring just four in the first half.

"I saw that Reggie was starting off slow, so I had to pick it up," Thompson said.

"He was huge," Bozeman said. "You win games with defense and rebounding, and he's been a yeoman on the boards."

Towson (3-6) now has lost seven straight on the road, dating to last season. Early, it appeared the Tigers were primed to break that streak.

Led by the perimeter shooting of guard Josh Thornton (21 points), who knocked down four of his first five 3-point attempts, the Tigers ran out to a 22-9 lead after the first 7:26, threatening to turn the game into a rout.

Morgan, however, settled down defensively, and quickly climbed back into the game by forcing poor shots and taking over the glass.

Still trailing by 13, the Bears switched to a quicker four-guard offense and embarked on an 18-2 run over the next four minutes, taking their first lead on consecutive three-pointers by DeWayne Jackson and Troy Smith.

"They were beating us on the 50-50 plays and energy plays," Bozeman said. "We weren't playing with any focus or sense of urgency. The group that made that run was big for us."

"They just totally out-quicked us," Towson coach Pat Kennedy said. "We had to adjust and go with a smaller lineup, but they just seemed more comfortable with the smaller lineup than we did."

Thompson, meanwhile, was a game-changer in the post, using his broad body and sound technique to dominate rebounding at both ends, often giving his team two or three chances in a possession.

Down by double-digits, the Tigers rallied late, getting to within two when Troy Franklin stripped Danny Smith near midcourt and converted at the other end with 55 seconds left. But the Bears then closed it out when Thompson grabbed a strong rebound to start a fast break, which ended with Jackson's dunk and three-point play.

Morgan, which now has defeated Towson six straight times at home, will spend its next eight games on the road before returning to Hill in late January.

TOWSON-Ja.Smith 0-5 2-2 2, Nwankwo 9-17 1-4 19, Lee 4-11 6-8 14, Morris 1-2 0-2 2, Thornton 7-15 1-2 21, Philmore 1-1 0-0 2, Brown 1-1 0-0 2, Polk 5-7 1-2 12, Brewster 0-0 0-0 0, Franklin 2-4 1-4 6. Totals 30-63 12-24 80.MORGAN ST.-Jackson 3-11 4-6 11, Thompson 10-19 3-7 23, Stokes 3-4 0-0 6, Holmes 6-20 8-8 20, Thomas 0-1 1-2 1, D.Smith 2-5 3-4 7, Davis 3-7 1-2 8, T.Smith 4-9 2-2 11, Long 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 31-77 22-31 87.Half-Morgan St. 46-35. 3-point goals-Towson 8-15 (Thornton 6-10, Polk 1-2, Franklin 1-2, Ja.Smith 0-1), Morgan St. 3-18 (Davis 1-3, Jackson 1-3, T.Smith 1-3, Holmes 0-9). Fouled out-None. Rebounds-Towson 31 (Nwankwo 9), Morgan St. 58 (Thompson 25). Assists-Towson 14 (Morris, Thornton 5), Morgan St. 15 (D.Smith 10). Total fouls-Towson 22, Morgan St. 18. A-988.

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