A cake congratulating Towson State women's basketball coach Ellen Fitzkee sat in the Tigers' locker room, awaiting what would be a simple celebration of her 100th career victory.
There was nothing flashy about last night's effort, either.
Towson State used a torrid stretch of outside shooting during the first half to take a comfortable lead and build on one of the better starts in the program's history with a 71-56 win over Morgan State at the Towson Center.
Senior guard Trinette Tucker scored 16 points for the Tigers, who hadn't been 5-1 since the 1981-82 season under Breezy Bishop, now the coach at Western High. Freshman center Shniece Perry added 14 points and eight rebounds, and junior guard LaTonya Joyner had nine points and nine assists.
Freshman forward Monique Liddell led Morgan State (0-5) with 14 points.
The Tigers came into the game shooting 33 percent from the field, but they were 17-for-35 in the opening half. Their biggest lead was 40-20 with 1: 40 left after a driving layup by Joyner.
"We have the capability to shoot from the outside, but we just haven't shown it in games. It was nice to see for a change because I know a lot of teams are thinking about maybe playing a zone right now," said Fitzkee, who is the first Towson State coach to reach 100 wins.
As for the milestone, Fitzkee said, "It's really a good feeling. I've been a part of Towson State for eight years and I've watched it grow and develop, and we've gone from baby steps to walking to jogging, and I think this team is up and running.
"I told the girls I have enough gray hairs to prove that we've been through the wars."
The Bears were missing All-Mid Eastern Athletic Conference guard Kaira Warfield because of an ankle injury. They never were able to take the lead, but there were two ties in the first half and they were down 18-14 with about nine minutes remaining.
That's when the Tigers heated up, and Morgan State began to wilt.
Tucker made a three-pointer, senior forward Nicole Norman scored off the glass and Perry hit from beyond the arc, increasing the lead to 26-15. Perry, junior forward Sonia Keiner (Hammond) and freshman guard Michele Lanigan made consecutive three-pointers in a span of 2: 35 as part of a 13-1 run.
The Bears twice got within 10 points in the second half, the last time after a free throw by junior forward Jodie Patrick with 10: 51 remaining.
It was only a tease, though. Joyner made two free throws and Lanigan hit a pull-up jumper. Other than three-pointers by Tucker and junior guard Courtney Baugh, Towson State lived on free throws and layups the rest of the way.
Morgan State's Nitrease Hamilton, a 6-1 senior, had 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Rutgers 62, UMBC 51: Geoff Billet and Terry Mills scored 18 points apiece and Rutgers held off a late Retrievers rally in a men's game in Piscataway, N.J.
After an emotional win over Georgetown Saturday, the Knights (3-2) had just four field goals in the final 15: 24 to let a 17-point lead shrink to 52-48 with 4: 38 remaining.
From that point, UMBC (0-5) missed 12 of its next 13 shots and Rutgers pulled away at the foul line.
Michael Van Veen led the Retrievers with 14 points.
St. Bonaventure 89, Morgan State 54: Four players scored in double figures as the host Bonnies (3-1) rolled over the Bears (1-3) in a non-conference game at the Reilly Center.
St. Bonaventure's Rashaan Palmer led all scorers with 23 points, and teammate Kenny McFarland added 15 points. Morgan's Chris Watson had 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Leading 44-19 at halftime, the Bonnies scored the first nine points of the second half to extend their lead to 53-19. The Bears' first basket of the second half didn't come until nearly four minutes were gone.
Pub Date: 12/12/96