Morgan State picks up first win of the season with victory over Marist

November 25, 2013|By Don Markus, The Baltimore Sun | By Don Markus, The Baltimore Sun

ST. THOMAS, U.S. Virgin Islands -- Morgan State's journey to its first men's basketball victory this season took 16 days, seven games and more than 2,300 miles of travel to complete.

And another five minutes of overtime Monday.

Senior center Ian Chiles scored a career-high 25 points, and senior guard Justin Black added 19 points, nine rebounds and three steals as the Bears beat still winless Marist, 75-67, at the University of Virgin Islands' Sports and Fitness Center.

"It was hard-fought, it's always tough to get the first one," Morgan State coach Todd Bozeman said. "I just feel happy for the guys because they've been working hard and stuck in there. Big Slew [Chiles] brought us home. Cedric Blossom had a monster game. A lot of guys stepped up."  

The victory gave Morgan State seventh-place in the eight-team field.

"It's great to get a win, both teams was 0-for (2013-14) and we just had to get a win by any means necessary," said Chiles, who added nine rebounds and a career-high seven blocked shots.

It meant getting the 7-2, 270-pound Chiles the ball nearly every time down the court in the first half for a variety of jump hooks, turnaround jump shots and, of course, dunks. Chiles either scored or assisted on his team's first 11 points.

It also meant keeping Chiles on the floor for a career-high 41 minutes.

"We wouldn't take him out," Bozeman said.

Morgan State (1-6) led by as many nine points in the first half (18-9), but saw its lead cut to two by halftime (32-30) and then watched as the Red Foxes, who lost to Maryland in the first round, went on a 10-1 run to eventually lead by eight, 57-49, with a little over seven minutes left.

The Bears then went on a 9-0 run to reclaim the lead, 58-57, with five minutes left. Morgan State had a chance to win at the end of regulation, but Marist double-teamed Chiles on an inbounds pass under his team's basket and a pass to Blossom was knocked away.

A tip-in by Blossom, who hit all five of his field goals and six straight free throws, gave Morgan State a lead in overtime it would never relinquish. An off-balanced 3-point shot by junior guard Blake Bozeman that banked in with 36 seconds left - and four seconds left on the 35-second clock - gave the Bears reason to celebrate.    

"It definitely hurt going 0-6," Black said. "We expected to have a tough non-conference schedule to get ready for the league. It was rough, especially having three seniors. The fact that we finally got one feels good."

Asked when he thought the Bears would win the game Monday, Black said, "That feeling never came. At home, we were up five with three minutes to go (against Ohio). We were up here."

Finally, when Blake Bozeman's shot banked in, Black recalled thinking, "OK, we're going to get one today."

Blake Bozeman waited a few more ticks.

"I never know the game is over until there is 0:00 on the clock, It gave us a nice little cushion, but I never relax until it's over," the younger Bozeman said. "We've lost a lot of close ones since I've been here." 

One of them came last week, when the Bears missed 16 free throws and lost at home to Ohio University by three points after missing 16 free throws.

Todd Bozeman, whose team plays Maryland in College Park Friday as part of the Paradise Jam's mainland section of games, said that he is going to enjoy some sightseeing Tuesday before the team heads back to Baltimore.      

"I'm not going to even think about it, I'm going to enjoy this today," Bozeman said.


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