LANDOVER -- Morgan State made it a little more interesting this season.
The final score of 92-64 in their annual loss to Georgetown didn't indicate it, but the Bears looked like a better team than the one that is usually shellacked in this matchup.
Morgan (1-5) held its own in rebounding against the bigger, beefier Hoyas, and showed grit before being worn down by a deeper bench, staying in the game for 27 minutes.
"I feel like the whole team played hard," Morgan co-captain Chris Watson said. "We came out energized and hung with them. But maybe we got too happy with what was going on at times."
In their three previous visits to USAir Arena, the Bears had lost by an average margin of 41 points. Not since 1992, when 'D Georgetown won, 103-85, have they been as close as yesterday.
Georgetown coach John Thompson cited a change to a smaller, quicker lineup as the move that enabled his team to pull away.
"[Morgan] did an excellent job of coming at us and we were more effective when we went smaller," he said.
In the first half, the Bears were within 25-24 and solving Georgetown's press nicely when Thompson began sifting in the swifter troops.
The result was a 20-6 run to end the half, putting Morgan behind 45-30.
"We had handled their press well when they went on that spurt," Watson said. "We had worked so hard to be in the game and that kind of took a lot from us."
Still, the Bears didn't fold. Early in the second half, Georgetown (8-1) capitalized on three turnovers to increase its margin to 50-30. Morgan answered by scoring 15 of the next 23 points to get back into contention at 58-45.
Then, Victor Page's two baskets sparked a 10-point surge by the Hoyas that solved any mystery about the outcome. Morgan committed four of its 37 turnovers in that short span.
Despite that turnover number, Thompson is not satisfied with his team's defense.
"I think we all have to become more aggressive," he said. "I don't think we're tough enough mentally and we have to realize that in our league you have to be aggressive. We're still too passive defensively."
Morgan's Scott Deas thought the Hoyas were plenty aggressive.
"They just played harder than we did, basically," said Deas. "We just need everyone to contribute more."
The victory was the 24th in a row at home for the Hoyas, who held Morgan to a 32.9 field-goal percentage while increasing their record in the series to 10-0.
Page, the Hoyas' leading scorer, had a game-high 23 points, and fellow guard Ed Sheffey -- who is still working his way into shape, Thompson said -- scored 19.
But the Bears did a strong job of defending Georgetown's starting front line of Jahidi White, Boubacar Aw and Cheikh Ya Ya Dia, rationing those three to a combined 20 points.
"Maybe we worried too much about the post guys," Watson said. "We handled them around the goal, but got beat elsewhere."
Freshman O'Tes Alston, who had been shooting 25 percent, was 7-for-15 from the field and topped the Bears with 16 points. Watson (15) and Deas (14) each hit two three-pointers.
The defeat was the third straight for the Bears during the grinding road schedule they always play early in the season. Their lone victory was over St. Francis (N.Y.) in their only home game until Jan. 18.
Next up? A trip to Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles on Saturday to play UCLA.
Pub Date: 12/22/96