Morgan State coach Todd Bozeman wants his team to play faster with a smaller lineup this season.
The Bears executed that strategy perfectly to run past crosstown rival Coppin State on Monday night.
Rasean Simpson scored 11 of his 18 points in the first half, while Kyle Thomas added 13 points as Morgan State rolled to a 83-43 victory before a raucous 3,878 at Hill Field House. It was the Bears' first win over Coppin State since March 14, 2014.
"We've been conditioning since the offseason," Simpson said. "We're ready now. We are looking to push it toward the championship."
Antonio Gillespie finished with 12 points for the Bears (5-15, 3-4 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) and Andre Horne went 4 of 4 from the field for 11 points.
"We put it together and the guys did a great job," Bozeman said. "Obviously getting a win feels good. I've been saying all along we are getting better but it hasn't necessarily shown in the wins and losses. This is the first time we had all our guys together."
Christian Kessee led Coppin State (5-16, 3-5) with 9 points and Terry Harris had 10 rebounds.
The Bears dove for every loose ball, dictated the pace and outmuscled Coppin State to set the tone from the opening tip. The Eagles didn't help themselves by missing 10 of their first 13 field goal attempts.
Morgan State opened a 27-10 lead on a layup by Donte Pretlow (Dunbar) late in the first half. The Bears outscored Coppin State 13-0 on fast-break points and extended the margin to 40-18 at the break.
The Eagles were just 1 of 11 from 3-point range in the opening half and were 4 of 22 (18.2 percent) for the game.
Morgan State remained in control and a short jumper by Thomas provided a 47-24 lead with 15:11 remaining. Coppin State was forced to foul to slow down Morgan State's quick transition. The Bears responded by going 24 of 39 from the free-throw line.
A 3-pointer by Gillespie gave Morgan State a 60-30 lead midway through the second half, paving the way for the Bears' largest margin of victory this season. The Eagles, meanwhile, lost their second straight game to an in-state foe after falling to UMES on Saturday.
Morgan State forward Cedric Blossom, who was named the MEAC Player of the Week, finished with 9 points.
The Bears were also tougher inside, winning the rebound battle, 53-35. It was 84th meeting between the schools with Coppin State holding a 56-28 lead in the series.
"We just got out butts whipped tonight," Coppin State coach Michael Grant said. "It was an old-fashioned butt-whipping. Our guys just didn't come ready to play. We had a bad practice yesterday. We really got on our guys about being focused and ready to go. We didn't have anything tonight."