Bears' patience pays off

The Baltimore Sun

Bethune-Cookman's defensive strategy against the potent Morgan State offense wasn't too hard to figure out last night at Hill Field House. The Wildcats wanted to slow the pace to a crawl.

That plan worked for much of the game. Bethune-Cookman clogged the lane and stopped Morgan State from running. But the Bears stayed patient and ground out a 55-44 victory in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference game.

Morgan State (16-10, 10-2) won its sixth straight, helping it move closer to a second straight regular-season title. The Bears have a three-game lead with four MEAC games remaining.

Reggie Holmes (St. Frances) made three three-pointers and had a game-high 16 points. Marquise Kately scored 13, and Jermaine "Itchy" Bolden (Douglass) added 11 points and four assists, and kept the offense settled in a game in which patience definitely was a virtue.

The first game between the teams was much different. The Bears turned that contest into a track meet early and had no trouble in a 78-44 rout in Florida. But Bethune-Cookman clearly wasn't going to let that happen again.

"It was one of those grind-it-out victories," Morgan State coach Todd Bozeman said. "We coach them to be focused. But it's a sign of maturity for us to pull through."

Morgan State had numerous problems from the start in last night's game. The Wildcats didn't let the Bears get any kind of high-percentage shots. The usually high-scoring Bears made only six baskets and couldn't get started on offense in a sloppy first half that ended in a tie at 19.

The longer Bethune-Cookman (12-14, 6-6) stayed close, the slower the pace became. But Morgan State helped its cause by making 12 of 16 shots in the second half after shooting only 33 percent in the first 20 minutes.

"They did a great job at controlling the tempo in the first half," Kately said. "We were more aggressive in the second half. We cut down on the offensive rebounds and adjusted [better]."

Still, the Bears couldn't pull away. They didn't get a double-digit lead until the final two minutes and never were ahead by more than 12.

C.J. Reed led Bethune-Cookman with 14 points, and John Holmes added 13.

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