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Struggling Bears falter late


In what was clearly a winnable game, host Morgan State struggled down the stretch last night and absorbed a 56-52 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference defeat against North Carolina A&T.;

The loss was the third in the past four games for the Bears, who had one field goal in the final 7 1/2 minutes after grabbing a 47-41 lead.

Morgan (3-22, 3-11) could have forced overtime during the last 30 seconds, but 6-foot-7, 300-pound Tyree Spinner missed three straight three-point attempts before a free throw by Jason Wills (15 points, seven rebounds) salted it away for the Aggies.

"It's tough and it keeps getting worse," said Morgan guard and leading scorer Joe McLean, who paced his team with 16 points and nine rebounds.

"This was a close game. We had an opportunity to win it. We just didn't make plays when we had to."

The losses - the Bears began the season 0-18 and were down to six players at one point - continue to frustrate the coaching staff, particularly head coach Butch Beard.

"None of these are winnable unless you believe you can win," Beard said. "There are 11 opinions in there [the locker room] on what went wrong."

North Carolina A&T; (5-19, 5-8) had lost five of six entering the game and is a team that has been depleted by injury, academic losses and a disciplinary action. In addition, 6-foot-9 freshman James Porter was ejected early in the game for a flagrant foul.

But the Aggies found enough to beat Morgan for the second time this season. A&T; won the first game in Greensboro, N.C., by 18 points when the Bears roster was depleted.

They did it by committing eight fewer turnovers (8-16), by shooting a little bit better and by capitalizing on Morgan's struggles in three-point shooting (6-for-25). The Bears rank last in the MEAC in three-point shooting.

Wills made the key basket, driving on Tim Berkley and tossing in a layup from a difficult angle to give the Aggies a 55-52 advantage.

After a timeout, Spinner missed a three-pointer. Morgan retrieved the ball and Walter Booth committed a foul, which A&T; had to give.

On the next possession, Spinner missed another three-pointer and when the ball ricocheted back to him, he took another shot, which also missed. Wills then made the foul shot that clinched it.

N. CAROLINA A&T-Powell; 1-4 0-0 2, Booth 3-6 0-2 7, Hernandez 2-5 1-2 5, Roberts 4-7 2-4 10, Wills 6-15 3-5 15, Hayes 1-7 1-2 4, Faison 2-3 0-0 5, Chaplin 3-7 0-2 8, Webster 0-0 0-0 0, Porter 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-54 7-17 56. MORGAN STATE-Jenkins 0-0 0-0 0, McLean 5-11 3-4 16, Gomes 3-8 0-0 8, Warfield 0-4 1-2 1, Berkley 4-6 0-0 8, Lymas 0-0 0-0 0, Reed 3-7 2-2 9, Branch 1-2 0-0 2, Folayan 0-1 0-2 0, Spinner 3-15 0-0 6, Cunningham 0-2 2-2 2. Totals 19-56 8-12 52. Halftime-Tied 21. Three-point goals-N. Carolina A&T; 5-15 (Chaplin 2-5, Booth 1-1, Faison 1-1, Hayes 1-6, Powell 0-1, Hernandez 0-1), Morgan St. 6-25 (McLean 3-6, Gomes 2-7, Reed 1-4, Branch 0-1, Cunningham 0-1, Warfield 0-2, Spinner 0-4). Fouled out-None. Rebounds-N. Carolina A&T; 30 (Wills 7), Morgan St. 41 (McLean 9). Assists-N. Carolina A&T; 8 (Powell 3), Morgan St. 10 (Warfield 3). Total fouls-N. Carolina A&T; 11, Morgan St. 17. A-1,576.

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