Morgan holds off Howard, 75-71

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Terrence Wright said he "wasn't really concerned" when Howard made a closing rush at Morgan State's lead last night at Hill Field House.

"I knew we would hang together and come out all right," he said.

Wright's thoughts proved on target as Morgan held off the Bison, 75-71, in their Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference game and ended a four-game losing streak.

But it got a little nerve-racking for the Bears, who dominated early, led by 19 points with 11 minutes to play and still had Howard in a 15-point hole with 3:30 remaining in the game.

The Bison reeled off 10 straight to reach a 71-66 deficit and were within 74-71 before a 15-minute delay caused by the sickness of 330-pound Morgan center Jarrad Smith.

"Jarrad has had the flu and he dehydrated," said Morgan coach Lynn Ramage.

The game resumed with nine seconds to play and Bison reserve John Gay fouled Damian Zellous, who sealed the victory by hitting one of two free throws.

Ramage was delighted by the start unleashed by the Bears, who poured in 11 straight points and 21 of 25 during a streak that gave them a 25-9 cushion.

"We came out exactly the way we did against Delaware State [in an 85-57 romp]," said the coach. "The intensity level was way up. Whenever we play like that, it makes the coaching staff very, very happy."

"I thought we were going to blow them out right there," said Wright, the senior guard who likes to play in the low post.

Howard (7-13, 6-4) was forced into a catch-up mode and didn't shoot well enough (32.8 percent from the field) to thrust itself into a threatening position.

So the Bison, who took the early MEAC lead by winning its first four league games, went down to its fourth defeat in its last six starts.

Sean Turley had 23 points and Phil Chenier added 18 for Howard, which hit just four of 21 from three-point range. Its poor marksmanship didn't allow the Bison to capitalize on 25 Bears turnovers.

Wright finished with 23 points on 9-for-11 shooting, six steals and four rebounds for Morgan, which would like to avoid crosstown rival Coppin in the early rounds of the MEAC tournament despite upsetting the Eagles last year.

"We certainly don't want to see Coppin in the first game if we don't have to," said Ramage. "Right now, third through seventh place [seeding] is wide open.

"We've already won as many conference games as last year and three more home games. Our next obstacle is to get some wins on the road."

Morgan (4-16, 4-6) will get its chance later this week at last-place Florida A & M Thursday and at Bethune-Cookman Saturday.

"Somebody told me it was 30 degrees in that part of Florida," said Ramage. "The way things are here, I'll take that."

For most of the game last night, his team was considerably warmer than that. Now all it needs is a hot streak heading for postseason play.

HOWARD -- Turley 6-15 9-11 23, Chenier 7-10 4-6 18, Crowder 3-11 7-11 13, T. Brown 1-10 1-2 4, Beard 2-8 0-0 4, Ross 0-1 0-0 0, Dedmon 1-3 2-2 4, Gay 1-5 0-0 2, A. Brown 1-4 0-0 3. Totals 22-67 23-32 71.

MORGAN STATE -- James 2-4 0-0 4, Deas 2-7 2-2 6, Battle 5-11 0-0 11, Wright 9-11 5-7 23, Rucker 4-7 0-0 9, Zellous 0-1 1-2 1, Grant 3-5 6-7 12, Bailey 0-0 2-2 2, Holmes 0-3 0-0 0, Smith 2-4 3-4 7. Totals 27-53 19-24 75.

Halftime--Morgan State, 39-29. 3-point goals--H 4-21 (Turley 2-6, A. Brown 1-2, T. Brown 1-7, Chenier 0-1, Dedmon 0-1, Gay 0-1); MS 2-12 (Rucker 1-2, Battle 1-5, James 0-1, Zellous 0-1, James 0-1, Deas 0-2). Rebounds--H 42 (Chenier 9); MS 34 (James 6). Assists--H 7 (T. Brown 3); MS 11 (Rucker 3, Zellous 3). Total fouls--H 19; MS 23. Fouled out--none. Technicals--none. A--2,439.

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