It has been a long and torturous season away from home for Bethune-Cookman, but the Wildcats ended an 11-game road losing streak last night, beating Morgan State, 78-70, in TC Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference game at Hill Field House.
"I'm hoping we've finally snapped the road jinx," said Wildcats coach Tony Sheals. "But it's been a real tough time."
It has been more than just losing games for Bethune-Cookman, which lost its two top scorers -- senior Richard Leonard and junior Mario Miller -- to season-ending leg injuries early in the season.
Caught in the blizzard in January, Bethune-Cookman needed 14 days to play four games in the Baltimore-Delaware area.
"We were stuck in Dover for so long, our hotel ran out of food," Sheals said. "How many times could I keep showing my team the same game tapes?"
But Sheals put all this misfortune behind him last night as his team (10-12, 6-7) showed considerable poise and balance against the small and youthful Bears.
In the first half, the Wildcats hurt Morgan down low with the strong post-up play of 6-foot-10 Tyronn White (13 points) and 6-6 Reggie Bellamy.
In the second half, the visitors relied on the outside shooting and baseline moves of Alistar Henry (19 points) and Lonnie Mincey (16 points) to open a 63-52 lead with 6:40 remaining.
Morgan (5-18, 4-8) made one last run. Chris Watson made a three-point play, freshman Rasheed Sparks converted one of two free throws and Jerard Rucker followed with a steal and basket to cut the deficit to 63-58 with 5:28 left.
But the Bears could come no closer as the Wildcats converted almost all their free-throw attempts in the closing minutes.
Morgan, coming off a victory over Florida A&M;, started impressively, jumping to a 19-9 lead in the first seven minutes.
But the Wildcats began to wear down the Bears with their physical play. Bellamy and White took full advantage of their size, grabbing a 38-32 lead before Morgan's Scott Deas ended the half with a three-pointer.
"We struggle against teams that have a low-post game," said Fuller. "But in the second half, we also didn't defend well on the perimeter and got burned by Henry [3-for-4 from three-point range].
"When we don't play well defensively, we don't get it done in transition. Right now, we're not a good set-up team."
Morgan will close out its home season against North Carolina A&T; next Wednesday. The Bears are barred from tournament competition this season.
Things look much brighter for Bethune-Cookman, which will finish most of the rest of season at home, where the Wildcats are 8-1.
"We started MEAC play 0-5, but we've done a lot of catching up," said Sheals. "Right now, I like the way things are shaping up for the MEAC tournament."