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Morgan State overcomes 14-point deficit to beat Coppin State, 50-48, on late 3 in 90th meeting of crosstown rivals

MSU #5 Sherwyn Devonish goes for a layup in the 2nd half over Coppin #1Ibn Williams. Morgan State University's men's basketball team plays at Coppin State on Saturday, January 25.
MSU #5 Sherwyn Devonish goes for a layup in the 2nd half over Coppin #1Ibn Williams. Morgan State University's men's basketball team plays at Coppin State on Saturday, January 25. (Ulysses Muoz / Baltimore Sun)

The final possession for the Morgan State men’s basketball team began frantically at the top of key, with players struggling to find any room against Coppin State’s tight defense.

The ball went to the left-side wing to senior forward David Syfax, who began to lose his dribble in the midst of a double team. Syfax was able to dribble out of the double team and jumped, throwing an off-target pass to junior guard Sherwyn Devonish, who was waiting on the wing by Morgan State’s bench.

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Devonish corralled the ball with his right hand before raising up with a smooth left-handed stroke, sinking a 3-pointer to give Morgan State a two-point lead with two seconds remaining.

Redshirt junior guard Dejuan Clayton drained a last-second heave about three-quarters of the length of the court, but officials waived it off as late, confirming the call after a short review.

As the refs looked at the shot, players from Morgan State ran off the court, reveling in a 14-point comeback and 50-48 victory in the 90th meeting between the crosstown rivals.

Coppin State celebrates what they think is a win after #13 drained a half court shot as time expired, but refs say it was made too late. Morgan State University's men's basketball team plays at Coppin State on Saturday, January 25.
Coppin State celebrates what they think is a win after #13 drained a half court shot as time expired, but refs say it was made too late. Morgan State University's men's basketball team plays at Coppin State on Saturday, January 25. (Ulysses Muoz / Baltimore Sun)

“I’m just taking what’s given to me. I’m just trusting my coaches,” said Devonish, who scored 11 points and made all three of his 3-point attempts. “We just had to slow the game down. ... We just had to pick them apart, get stops, score and that’s pretty much all it was.”

Coppin State (5-16, 1-5 MEAC) led by as many as 14 points in the half and took a 10-point lead into halftime. Morgan State (10-12, 4-3) struggled to make shots early in a game where both teams shot under 30% from the field.

A chippy last few minutes of the first half ended with the head coaches, Kevin Broadus and Juan Dixon, exchanging words yards away while heading to their locker rooms.

It was the first meeting between first-year head coach Broadus and Dixon, who both had stints as assistant coaches at the University of Maryland.

“They mirror me, so I’ve got to stay calm,” Broadus said. “I always tell them, ‘Match my intensity,’ and they did today. They stayed calm. Our defense the last four minutes was incredible. We’ve got to figure out how to get out of these slow starts. We dug ourselves in a hole, but we’re going to fix it.”

Morgan State outscored Coppin State 32-20 in the second half and took its first lead of the game with under 10 minutes remaining after a made free throw from sophomore forward Malik Miller.

Senior guard Stanley Davis, who scored a team-high 13 points, hit two shots on back-to-back possessions to give Morgan State a three-point lead with under 90 seconds remaining. However, Davis’ first shot was changed from a 3-pointer to a 2-pointer after an official review, giving the Bears a 47-46 lead with 31 seconds remaining.

A pair of made free throws by Clayton gave Coppin State a 48-47 lead with 19 seconds left before Devonish’s winning shot.

“I told our guys, and it’s probably not a good thing, but I said, 'At some point, we’re going to be down 14, 15 points,” Broadus said. “And if we’re going to win the game, we’ve got to fight back. ... We just fought through for 40 minutes.”

Graduate transfer Andrew Robinson scored a team-high 12 points for the Eagles. Clayton added nine points, six rebounds and five assists.

Morgan State’s win brings the all-time record between the two teams to 57-33, with Coppin State holding the lead in the series. The Bears also avenged last year’s regular-season sweep and loss to the Eagles in the MEAC tournament.

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“This was just another game on the schedule. It happened to be a rivalry between two crosstown rivals,” Broadus said. “It was what I expected. Now that we got the win, it was even better. I think these kids had a monkey on their back for last year. We just had to get over the ride, and we did.”

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