After beating teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference (Maryland) and Big East (DePaul), the Bears added Towson of the CAA to their portfolio of victories yesterday, never trailing in the first Bracketbuster appearance by a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference member in an 80-64 romp at Towson Center.
Granted, Towson (9-20) is not among the premier teams in one of the toughest mid-major leagues in the country, but it was still a significant win for the Bears, their eighth in a row and 10th in the past 11 games.
"We appreciate the opportunity to participate in the Bracketbuster, representing not only ourselves, but the conference," Morgan coach Todd Bozeman said. "We want to one day have all the [MEAC] teams participate."
Said Tigers coach Pat Kennedy: "This is a very solid Morgan team. We were concerned about their balance, and their flow and consistency were much sharper than ours. It seemed like every time we had an opportunity, we made tough decisions that turned into bad plays."
All five Bears starters scored in double figures, with Reggie Holmes (St. Frances) leading the way with 18 and Jermaine "Itchy" Bolden (Douglass) adding 16 and nine assists. Marquise Kately also had 16 points, and freshman Kevin Thompson (Walbrook) pitched in with 12 points, five assists and nine rebounds. Morgan had a 51-35 edge on rebounds.
Morgan (18-10) has now beaten MEAC rival Coppin State and UMBC in addition to Maryland and Towson.
"They're all the same to me, Towson, Maryland, UMBC," said Holmes, who scored all of his points on three-pointers, three in each half, but flubbed a second-half dunk, prompting Bozeman to comment: "Obviously, he's not much of a dunker; he needs to stick to jump shots and leave the dunks to the other guys."
In losing for the sixth time in the past seven games, Towson was often helter-skelter on offense, relying most on 21 points by Jarrel Smith while the Bears kept Junior Hairston (1-for-10) and Josh Thornton (2-for-6), the team's top two scorers, under control.
"Itchy kept us going, generally doing what a point guard is supposed to do," Bozeman said. "We're at the point where he can make some calls himself in the second half. We got other people in the game. I don't think we've hit on all cylinders yet. We've come a ways, but we're not where we want to be. But these guys understand the philosophy now."
The Tigers made several first-half runs, closing to within 30-28 near the break before Holmes made a three-pointer, Bolden scored on a drive and then Bolden hit a three to stretch the margin to 39-30.
Towson's final gasp came early in the second half when it closed to within four before Holmes made another shot from long-range to ignite a run from which the Tigers never recovered.
"We'd love to play them, and all the local teams, every year," Kennedy said.
Morgan leads the all-time series with Towson 12-11.