With Morgan State leading by one with three minutes remaining, Bears coach Chris Fuller challenged Jimmy Fields during a timeout to take over the game yesterday. Fields obliged, throwing in his usual flair of showmanship.
Having a hand in all but one basket during the final stretch, Fields scored half of the Bears' points in a game-ending 16-4 run, engraving his signature on an 81-68 victory over visiting Maryland Eastern Shore in Morgan's triumphant return to newly renovated Hill Field House.
The noisy crowd of 3,450 witnessed the Gilman School graduate deliver eight points, three assists and three rebounds in the final 2: 43. He initiated the run with his only three-pointer and capped it with a behind-the-back pass to Doug Qualls for an easy layin.
That rounded out a 12-point, 11-assist and 11-rebound show by the 5-foot-10 point guard for what is believed to be Morgan's first triple double in two decades. Fields celebrated new career highs in assists and rebounds by hugging his 1-year-old son Justin in the center of the court after the game.
Curtis King, a primary beneficiary of Fields' passes, added 27 points on 11-for-16 shooting.
"We won the game because of leadership," Fuller said. "But you still have yet to see the best of Jimmy Fields. I feel he has the ability to play at the next level. And we still have another year left with him. So in the days ahead, he's really going to entertain us."
Fields' dramatics allowed Morgan (12-12, 11-5) to remain a game behind second-place Coppin State in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference with two regular-season games left. Not only that, the Bears evened their record in February for the first time in 10 years and equaled their best single-season victory total in the '90s.
UMES (9-14, 7-9) has lost three of its past four games.
"It feels good looking on the positive side of .500," Fuller said. "The guys deserve it."
Morgan surged ahead after halftime, sinking three of its first four shots to take a 42-32 lead two minutes into the second half.
Making only two baskets over an eight-minute span, Morgan watched its advantage shrink to 65-64 with 3: 06 remaining. It could have been worse if not for the Bears' 10-for-15 foul shooting.
So with the game on the line and its offense out of whack, Morgan called upon its floor leader.
Although he had only hit one of eight shots, Fields took an inbounds pass from midcourt and launched a three-pointer from a few feet behind the left side of the arc without hesitation. That gave Morgan a 68-64 cushion with 2: 43 left and shifted the momentum back for good.
"I have a lot of confidence in myself," Fields said. "It was a typical shot for me and was in the rhythm of the offense. I would have taken it if I was 0-for-10."
Following that clutch shot, Fields grabbed a defensive rebound and heaved a length-of-the-court pass to Rasheed Sparks for an uncontested slam. A free throw and a shot from the middle of the lane by Fields pushed the spread to 73-66 with 1: 19 remaining.
Fields closed out his performance with two more foul shots and two more assists. The Hawks closed out the game by missing five of their last seven shots.
"The final minutes of the game, we showed poise and patience," Fields said. "As a point guard, it's a natural part of the position to lead the team. And I try to do that as well as I can."
UMES -- Conway 9-19 3-3 25, Surprin 1-4 1-2 3, Reese 2-11 8-8 13, James 1-3 0-0 2, Hughes 0-0 0-0 0, Hoover 1-3 0-0 2, Reynolds 0-5 0-0 0, White 1-4 0-0 2, Jones 7-12 5-6 19, Rashaw 0-0 0-0 0, Christian 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 23-63 17-19 68.
MORGAN STATE -- Sparks 5-8 2-6 14, King 11-16 5-6 27, Demory 3-11 7-7 16, Fields 3-10 5-7 12, Lewis 2-4 0-0 4, Reece 1-3 1-2 3, Van Hook 1-4 0-0 3, Bullock 0-1 0-0 0, Canady 0-0 0-0 0, Herron 0-0 0-0 0, Qualls 1-2 0-1 2. Totals 27-59 20-29 81.
Halftime--Morgan State 36-32. 3-point goals--UMES 5-20 (Conway 4-10, Reese 1-6, Reynolds 0-4); MS 7-24 (Sparks 2-3, Demory 3-11, Fields 1-6, Van Hook 1-4). Fouled out--Lewis. Rebounds--UMES 35 (Jones 11); MS 44 (Fields 11). Assists--UMES 11 (Reynolds 4); MS 19 (Fields 11). Total fouls--UMES 24; MS 17. A--3,450.
Pub Date: 2/21/99