Morgan State rides fast start to 75-62 win over UMBC

  • Larry Bastfield of Morgan State drives as UMBC's Chris De La Rosa guards him.
Larry Bastfield of Morgan State drives as UMBC's Chris… (Baltimore Sun photo by Kim…)
December 18, 2010|By Rich Scherr, Special to The Baltimore Sun

Morgan State coach Todd Bozeman wasn't sure quite what to expect from his basketball team Saturday after a two-week layoff.

Facing crosstown-rival UMBC, the host Bears didn't make their coach sweat for long, hitting 10 of their first 15 shots, controlling the tempo and building an early 22-point lead before staving off the Retrievers' second-half rally in a 75-62 win.

"The first 15 minutes was the best 15 minutes we've had all year," Bozeman said. "We were in unison, we were working together and the guys were talking."

Morgan (4-4), the two-time defending Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference champion, now has won back-to-back games for the first time this season heading into consecutive road games against nationally ranked Syracuse and Louisville.

The loss, meanwhile, dropped UMBC to 0-11, the longest losing streak to start a season in program history, and three off its all-time record at the Division I level. The frustration was evident, with UMBC coach Randy Monroe ejected with 7:53 left after picking up his second technical foul for arguing with the referees.

Guard Chris De La Rosa kept UMBC in the game by scoring a game-high 20 points to go along with a career-high-tying 11 assists, as the Retrievers whittled the lead to eight by midway through the second half. Morgan, however, put the game away with a late run of its own, outscoring the Retrievers 12-2 over the next 5 minutes.

Bozeman said the time off proved to be quite helpful to his team.

"We needed that time, because we're trying to work out some kinks," Bozeman said. "Do we have pieces? Absolutely. Are the pieces gelling 100 percent the way we want them to? No. I was actually pleased that we had that kind of time."

Morgan showed little signs of rust, using its potent inside-outside game to dominate the Retrievers.

Inside, 6-foot-9, 240-pound forward Kevin Thompson had his way, outmuscling slighter defenders for 14 points, seven rebounds and three blocks. Forward DeWayne Jackson added a team-high 15 points for the Bears, who shot 61 percent from the field and finished with five players in double figures.

Outside, guard Aric Brooks scored 14, and teammate Justin Black nailed a pair of three-pointers.

The combination was simply too much for UMBC, which entered the week ranked No. 333 of 336 Division I teams in field-goal percentage defense.

"We were just playing defense, then we were getting the ball inside," Thompson said. "If I didn't have any shots, I was just kicking it out to my teammates."

The Bears looked sharp early, using their full-court press to stifle the Retrievers on offense, then getting three-pointers from Justin Black and Larry Bastfield, to build a 22-8 lead midway through the first half.

UMBC's effort was further complicated by the early loss of starting forward Adrian Satchell, who was forced to the bench by a pair of early fouls while guarding Thompson. With just over 4 minutes left in the half, Morgan had extended its lead to 34-12.

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