Morgan State, which had a five-game home winning streak stopped Saturday, started another one last night. The Bears came out shooting and led for all but the first 30 seconds in putting away Howard, 88-69, at Hill Field House.
When junior guard Tremaine Byrd answered John Gay's opening three-point goal with one of his own, then added another moments later, the enthusiastic crowd of 1,875 got into it, and the Bears were not seriously challenged the rest of the way.
Byrd went on to finish with 28 points. It was his (and the team's) second-best individual effort of the year, surpassed only by Byrd's 30 against Delaware State.
There was a 13-0 Morgan State run in the first five minutes, capped by a Byrd jumper, and a three-pointer by Jerard Rucker (Cardinal Gibbons) with four minutes left produced the widest margin of the half at 37-18. It was 40-28 at the break.
Morgan State, which had been trampled by a 27-4 Coppin State run early in the second half of Saturday's 81-56 loss, was not about to let it happen again. After the visitors closed to within 42-33, the Bears responded with a 17-2 burst.
The win boosted Morgan State (6-12, 5-5) into fourth place in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, and left Howard (4-14, 4-6) fifth.
Some of the Morgan showmanship that had been present in earlier games was back in evidence. As coach Chris Fuller said, "It seeps through, but we are trying to control it. We just want them to play hard, not play to the crowd."
It was Morgan's first game without Ira Crawley, a 6-foot-7 senior from Columbia (Wilde Lake). Crawley sprained an ankle Saturday, but is expected back for Saturday's game at Coppin State.
"I thought we struggled in our half-court offense, but the transition game was decent," Fuller said. "They were killing us rebounding in the first half, but we did a better job after that, and even got some assists. We had been concerned about that."
Howard claimed 14 offensive rebounds in the first half, but shot just 28 percent from the field. The home team had seven assists at the half, 17 for the game, led by nine from Lorenzo Hutchinson, a junior guard.
"We've been winning with quickness, but I think we got down when they started hitting those threes," said Howard coach Michael McLeese.
The winners had six in the first half, eight for the game.
Pub Date: 2/04/97