HAMPTON -- Hampton University learned the hard lesson that a 7-foot-2 center and several other big bodies greatly reduce its margin for error and require more poise and attention to detail.
Center Ian Chiles and his Morgan State teammates gained separation during a key stretch of the second half and held off the Pirates 80-71 Monday at the HU Convocation Center.
“I think defensively in the first half, we were a lot more solid. We got a lot of rebounds, stuff like that,” Hampton guard Deron Powers said. “In the second half, I feel like we maybe gambled a little bit on some plays. On offensive rebounds, they’d get it, we gambled a little bit going for the rebound, we didn’t get back and they got some easy scores.”
Hampton (8-10, 3-2 MEAC) dropped its second consecutive conference game in a matchup between two of the league’s top teams – a fierce and at times nearly frantic affair in which the Pirates went cold at an inopportune time.
Morgan State guard Justin Black (24 points) justfied his status as a preseason all-conference pick, but the 7-2 Chiles and his big frontline mates likely had the greatest impact on the game.
Chiles, a redshirt senior, finished with 17 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks. He probably altered at least twice that many shots, as Hampton players attacking the basket often were mindful of his presence and adjusted – sometimes necessarily, sometimes not.
Morgan State (6-10, 4-0 MEAC) outscored Hampton 50-22 in the paint, though the discrepancy was as much a result of the Bears having numerical advantages in transition as getting the ball inside to Chiles and his mates.
“They outran us at times,” HU coach Ed Joyner Jr., said. “When we had a layup and we missed it and we’re fighting for rebounds, they get the rebound and it’s three-on-ones back there. They got too many easy points that way. We’ve got to (make) baskets to get our defense turned up. We’ve got to do a better job of, if we’re not getting offensive rebounds, getting back on defense and making sure we locate who we’ve got.”
“When they were able to get a rebound, and we were fighting for offensive rebounds, that’s where their size affected us the most. When they got the rebound and turned, they had three-on-ones back there, a couple times before we were able to turn around.”
Jervon Pressley’s conventional three-point play cut Hampton U.’s deficit to 51-49 with 12:07 remaining. From there, Morgan State went on a 15-5 run – every point a result of a driving shot in the paint or a fast break.
Meanwhile, Hampton missed 5 of 6 shots, committed three turnovers and fell behind 66-54 on Donte Pretlow’s driving shot with 6:58 left.
“We’ve got to see the ball go through the basket some time,” Joyner said. “You’re not going to stop everybody, every minute. We can’t keep relying on a bunch of stops. That drought killed us, and during that drought we missed free throws. We turned the ball over. Everything that we did well the first half, we reverted back and didn’t do well the second half.”
“I think it was a matter of being too urgent,” Powers said. “I felt like sometimes when we go stretches where we don’t score, we start trying to force the action on offensive rebounds and things like that. If we miss a shot, we come back down and reach and try to get the ball back, and that’s when they take advantage of it. They pushed the ball and got some easy buckets.”
Hampton also missed eight free throws in the second half after going 11-for-13 in the first half. The Pirates were 27-for-37 from the foul line for the game.
Morgan State left the door open a crack in the final minute-and-a-half, being sloppy with the ball and missing free throws. Brian Darden’s two foul shots with 35.3 seconds left cut the lead to 70-66.
But Chiles, a 57-percent foul shooter, made both ends of a one-and-one for a 72-66 lead. In a rush, HU committed back-to-back turnovers, and Morgan State’s Anthony Hubbard sank two free throws after each one.
“The biggest thing to me is decision making, everybody’s decision making on the court,” Powers said. “Being solid on defense, making the good pass, the necessary pass. Not necessarily always the playmaking pass that everybody wants to see, just the good pass that guys can hold onto. Our decision making’s got to get better. We play hard every game. It’s execution and being poised.”