Morgan can't keep up with red-hot Va. Tech

The Baltimore Sun

BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Todd Bozeman walked into the interview room and looked at the final statistics.

"Wow," he said.

The wow factor was Virginia Tech's 82.6 percent shooting from the field in the second half, ending Morgan State's first National Invitation Tournament appearance in a 94-62 loss in front of a raucous and sellout crowd of 9,628.

"I knew they shot the cover off the ball," Bozeman said. "But good gracious."

Bozeman was pleased with his team's play on both ends of the floor. He just chalked up the blowout to one of those nights when one team is hitting its shots and the other isn't.

The Bears (22-11) kept pace for much of the first half, but when they cooled off, the Hokies seemed to get only hotter. Virginia Tech (20-13) shot 65.4 percent on its highest scoring night of the season, and the Bears shot 43.3 percent.

Hokies coach Seth Greenberg, who led his team to a fourth-place finish in the Atlantic Coast Conference, said he didn't expect to roll over Morgan State. The Bears had lost to NCAA tournament teams Connecticut and Miami by four points each.

The other wow factor is how Bozeman has turned around the program in his two years, leading the Bears to the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference regular-season title and earning the league's Coach of the Year honors.

This season was one thrill on top of another for senior Karanvir Aujla, who had experienced nothing but losing seasons until this year.

"It felt like we were a real [Division I] program," Aujla said. "When I first came in, we went from having home games with maybe 100 people and the fans scattered and a little cheer here and there to just so much fan support. I've never seen the school support so high."

Aujla credited the success this season to changes Bozeman made in preparing the Bears through weightlifting and game preparation to compete at a higher level.

"We knew everything a team was going to do, and it wasn't like that before," Aujla said. "The whole program just stepped up."

Against Virginia Tech, the Bears tried to step up and stop A.D. Vassallo, a second-team All-ACC performer.

But Vassallo was unstoppable, scoring 19 of his 27 points in the first half as Tech built a 40-25 lead. Vassallo scored when he was open early, and when the Bears started being guarded, nothing changed. Vassallo made 11 of his 14 shots, including three of five from three-point range.

"The guy was having a hand in his face, and he was still making it," Morgan State's Boubacar Coly said. "[Tech's Deron] Washington said, 'He's been playing like this the last six games. He can't miss.'"

The Bears were missing MEAC Player of the Year Jamar Smith for much of the game because of a bone bruise on his left foot. He was limited to 18 minutes and scored six points.

Marquise Kately led the Bears with 21 points.

MORGAN STATE--Coly 5-9 1-2 11, Kately 10-16 0-4 21, Stokes 0-1 0-0 0, Green 2-5 2-4 6, Holmes 2-8 2-2 8, Johnson 0-0 0-0 0, Bolden 4-8 0-0 10, Barnes 0-1 0-0 0, Aujla 0-3 0-0 0, Smith 3-9 0-0 6, Hemsley 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-60 5-12 62. VIRGINIA TECH--Allen 3-6 4-5 10, Washington 3-4 5-6 11, Witcher 2-2 0-0 4, Vassallo 11-14 2-2 27, Delaney 5-8 0-0 13, Bell 2-3 0-1 5, Hudson 3-4 0-0 6, Amalfe 1-1 0-0 2, Travis 0-0 0-0 0, Thorns 1-3 2-2 5, Vinson 0-1 0-0 0, Debnam 0-1 2-2 2, Thompson 3-4 3-4 9, Diakite 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 34-52 18-22 94. Half--Virginia Tech 40-25. 3-point goals--Morgan State 5-21 (Bolden 2-4, Holmes 2-5, Kately 1-3, Barnes 0-1, Green 0-2, Smith 0-3, Aujla 0-3), Virginia Tech 8-14 (Delaney 3-4, Vassallo 3-5, Thorns 1-2, Bell 1-2, Allen 0-1). Rebounds--Morgan State 21 (Coly 6), Virginia Tech 35 (Washington 9). Assists--Morgan State 12 (Kately 4), Virginia Tech 18 (Washington 5). Total fouls--Morgan State 20, Virginia Tech 10. A--9,628.

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