Morgan State survives Hampton, 74-67, in MEAC semifinals

Bears overcome Holmes' struggles, advance to tournament championship game

March 13, 2010|By Ken Murray | ken.murray@baltsun.com

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — - Reggie Holmes was off, Kevin Thompson was frustrated and Morgan State was struggling in its Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference semifinal against Hampton on Friday night.

But when coach Todd Bozeman went to his deep bench, he got big contributions from unlikely heroes - Ameer Ali and Joe Davis - and the No. 1-seeded Bears outlasted Hampton, 74-67, to reach this afternoon's final at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

All that stands between the Bears (26-9) and a second straight trip to the NCAA tournament is a weary South Carolina State team that needed overtime to beat Delaware State, 70-66, in the other semifinal. The Bulldogs (17-13) inflicted Morgan's only MEAC loss this season, 71-68, on Feb. 15 in Baltimore.

"We have tabbed ourselves as grinders," Bozeman said. "That's the definition of grinding. I'm glad we can move on. Twenty-six wins is a great accomplishment."

Foul trouble and frigid shooting put Morgan in a 32-27 first-half hole. The Bears went seven minutes without a field goal and more than five minutes without scoring.

Holmes, the MEAC's Player of the Year, had just three points in the first half and Thompson, the league's Defensive Player of the Year, drew a technical foul when he protested a noncall too long.

Into the vacuum came Ali, a 6-foot-4 sophomore, who scored 10 of his team-high 14 points in the second half. He picked up the slack inside when Thompson (seven points, eight rebounds) had to sit with three fouls and finished with eight rebounds.

Davis, meanwhile, subbed for a foul-hindered Sean Thomas at point guard and delivered 12 points and five assists.

"All year, I've been struggling with the plays," said Davis, a junior. "At midseason, coach said he was getting confidence in me."

Said Bozeman: "He's learning how to play point guard, and he's growing into the position. He's playing much better defense on the ball than he was in the beginning of the year."

After shooting 25.9 percent in the first half, the Bears hit 63.6 percent in the second. And when it came down to it, it was a 3 by Holmes and two big plays by DeWayne Jackson that pushed Morgan past Hampton (13-18).

With 3:44 left in the game, Jackson (11 points) split two defenders on a drive down the lane to tie the score at 60. Moments later, he delivered a perfect pass for a layup by Troy Smith (12 points).

But after Hampton regained the lead at 64-62, Holmes buried his first field goal of the game, with 2:29 left, to put Morgan on top to stay. That triggered a 12-1 run that ended Hampton's season.

Afterward, Bozeman paid tribute to Hampton's Theo Smalling, the Pirates' captain who died in October of an accidental gunshot wound. And he paid tribute to Morgan's own Anthony Anderson, a 6-10 freshman who is fighting leukemia.

"I knew [the Pirates] were playing for something bigger, and I want to tip my hat to them," Bozeman said. "Our guys are playing for something bigger as well. We're playing for Anthony Anderson."

HAMPTON-Pellum 3-13 1-3 7, Simpson 3-9 3-4 11, Tunnell 1-5 5-7 7, Freeman 6-10 6-9 18, Lola-Charles 0-1 0-0 0, Tuitt 3-3 0-2 6, Funches 1-2 3-4 5, Morgan II 6-11 0-0 13, Reed 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 23-55 18-29 67.

MORGAN STATE-Holmes 1-7 9-9 11, Thomas 1-8 3-4 5, T.Smith 3-4 6-7 12, Thompson 2-4 3-8 7, Ali 6-10 2-3 14, Johnson 0-1 0-0 0, D.Smith 0-0 0-0 0, Davis 3-7 6-8 12, Stokes 0-1 0-0 0, Long 1-2 0-0 2, Foote 0-0 0-0 0, Jackson 4-5 2-2 11. Totals 21-49 31-41 74.

Half-Hampton 32-27. 3-point goals-Hampton 3-12 (Simpson 2-4, Morgan II 1-5, Pellum 0-3), Morgan St. 1-7 (Jackson 1-1, T.Smith 0-1, Holmes 0-2, Davis 0-3). Fouled out-Simpson, Tunnell. Rebounds-Hampton 33 (Funches 6), Morgan St. 38 (Ali, Thompson 8). Assists-Hampton 6 (Tuitt, Tunnell 2), Morgan St. 14 (Davis 5). Total fouls-Hampton 27, Morgan St. 27. Technical-Thompson. A: n/a.

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