Morgan St. is beaten again, 83-72


First finding success and then building on it hasn't come easily for the Morgan State men's basketball team this season. Yesterday's 83-72 loss to Bethune-Cookman provided another prime example.

The Bears came out working hard and playing efficient to take a 43-37 lead at the half, only to see it quickly vanish before 1,317 at Hill Field House.

Morgan coach Butch Beard, who addressed his players with a halftime lead for only the fourth time this season, told his group the first five minutes of the second half would decide the outcome.

He was right.

While his Bears managed only one field goal in the stretch with seven turnovers and four misses, Bethune (10-15, 7-9 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) attacked the basket behind forward Richard Toussaint, taking its first lead of the game with his three-point play with 15:27 left for a 48-45 advantage. Toussaint, the conference's leading scorer, finished with a game-high 28 points, including 17 in the second half.

The Wildcats would continue on a 19-2 run that would push the lead to 56-45 and essentially put the game away.

For Beard, whose Bears are now 2-22 overall and 2-14 in the MEAC, the second-half fall was all too familiar.

"No energy," he said. "We haven't had too many wins or leads at halftime so that's another thing, but I'm not using that as an excuse because this [season] is just about over. It's just a matter of being mentally tough to get things done, and we don't have it."

The Bears got their first win of the season against Bethune, 66-64, on Jan. 21. Since then, they have managed only one more win, while the Wildcats have gone 4-5, including a 4-3 mark since Cliff Reed has come on as interim head coach.

Despite early foul trouble coming to starters Curtis King and Reggie Winkfield, the Bears shot 57 percent from the floor and hit seven of eight free throws in the first half, building a 41-30 lead with three minutes left in the half.

The second half was a different Morgan team and a different story.

"I think it has to do with a lack of focus," said King, who finished with a team-high 18 points on 8-for-8 shooting from the field. "Coach always preaches how important the first five minutes are going to be in the second half. And then we have these lapses where we have dumb turnovers where we compound it rather than regroup. It's frustrating."

Sophomore guard Cedrick Barrow finished with 14 points for the Bears, while senior forward Brandon Reece came off the bench to score 12.

BETHUNE-COOKMAN-Cage 3-6 3-4 10, Riddick 6-11 2-4 16, Larmond 5-8 1-1 12, Toussaint 8-15 12-12 28, Ba 3-8 1-4 7, Cox 3-6 0-0 7, Daniels 1-1 1-2 3. Totals 29-55 20-27 83. MORGAN STATE-Winkfield 1-7 0-0 3, Barrow 5-7 2-2 14, Dukes 2-10 2-2 6, King 8-8 2-3 18, Andrews 3-6 0-0 6, Grandy 0-2 0-0 0, McNeil 1-4 2-2 4, Stallings 0-0 0-0 0, Reece 5-6 2-5 12, Scott 1-1 0-0 2, Fisher 1-2 0-0 2, Snipes 1-1 0-0 2, Ward 1-2 1-1 3 . Totals 29-56 11-15 72. Halftime-Morgan St. 43-37. 3-point goals-Bethune-Cookman 5-14 (Riddick 2-5, Cage 1-2, Cox 1-2, Larmond 1-4, Toussaint 0-1). Morgan St. 3-10 (Barrow 2-2, Winkfield 1-4, Grandy 0-1) Fouled out-None. Rebounds-Bethune-Cookman 31 (Ba 11), Morgan St. 26 (Andrews 6). Assists-Bethune-Cookman 5 (Cage 3), Morgan St. 11 (Barrow 3, Dukes 3). Total fouls-Bethune-Cookman 16, Morgan St 22. A-1,317.

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