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Seniors Kendley, Carr lead Morgan State past Coppin State, 69-56

Tiwian Kendley missed the first 10 games of the Morgan State men’s basketball team’s season for a violation of team rules. Recently, he has seemed hell-bent on making up for lost time.

Entering Monday night’s showdown with Coppin State at Hill Field House, his last as a Bear, he had scored 116 points over the team’s previous four games. Through the first 19-plus minutes of the first half against the Eagles, he had 18 points. None were as emphatic, as palate-cleansing, as his 19th and 20th.

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With halftime nearing and the clock ticking down, Kendley flew into the open court with the ball. No one would catch him. He rose for a right-handed tomahawk jam with less than 10 seconds left. It has been a trying season for Morgan, the preseason favorite in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, but for a fleeting moment in a 69-56 win, renewal seemed possible.

Here's what you need to know about Monday's rivalry game.

Kendley and fellow senior Phillip Carr, the MEAC Preseason Player of the Year, combined for 39 points in helping lead the Bears (11-17, 7-8) past perhaps their season’s nadir and positioning the team for a MEAC tournament run next week.

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“Me and my boy had to come back and get a ‘W’, ” said Kendley, who finished with a game-high 27 points, five rebounds and three assists.

It had been an eventful previous 48 hours for Morgan. History will note that the final score of the Bears’ game Saturday night was 2-0, Hampton. Reality was more complicated.

Morgan coach Todd Bozeman and forward David Syfax were ejected after receiving their second technical fouls with 13:33 remaining following an on-court altercation with the Bears trailing by 19 points. Bozeman told his team to leave the floor, and because the game hadn’t reached the 10-minute mark of the second half, a forfeit was later declared. Syfax was suspended three games for violating a rule related to fighting, while Bozeman was reprimanded and fined an unspecified amount.

“It was what it was,” Bozeman said. “It was what it was. Stuff happens at Hampton all the time. It’s just one of those things.”

The Bears-Pirates game Saturday night ended with 13:33 remaining after coach Todd Bozeman instructed his players to leave the floor after he and one of his players were ejected.

Before Monday’s game, Bozeman looked unburdened by the team’s disappointing season. As Carr and Kendley strode to midcourt for senior-day festivities along with friends and family, he gave each a warm, long embrace. Then he ordered their teammates off the bench for an impromptu team photo on the Bears logo.

The game was tentatively scheduled to tip off at 8 p.m. After the celebrations of the cheerleading team’s seniors and Carr and Kendley, after the completion of the teams’ shoot-arounds and the introduction of starting lineups, it was closer to 8:30.

No one looked more eager to play, or more prepared, than Kendley. Against Hampton, he had been aggressively boxed out late in the second half on a dead-ball free throw. By the time he headed to the bench for treatment, a fuse had been lit. Emotions got the best of both teams a little while later.

A week before, Kendley had scored 41 points on 19 shots in an overtime loss to Bethune-Cookman. For much of this Monday, he was just as devastating. A steal near midcourt and breakaway dunk put Morgan up — for good, as it turned out — after the teams had traded leads early in the first half. At the under-four timeout, he was 6-for-10 from the field for 14 points; Coppin (5-25, 5-10) was 5-for-23 overall with 16 points.

Nothing was easy for the Eagles. Recent history suggested it wouldn’t be. In its last game, Coppin had lost by 18 at Delaware State — the same Delaware State that had the second-longest losing streak in Division I (21 games). Since an 80-73 overtime win at Morgan that sparked a once-unthinkable three-game winning streak — the Eagles had lost their first 17 games, after all — Coppin has one win in its past six games.

The Eagles won for the second time in four games, while the Bears lost their third straight.

But then, most games aren’t won with 25.9 percent shooting. The Eagles struggled against the Bears’ pressure all night; junior forward Cedric Council, who led the team with 12 points and 10 rebounds, was their only player to make more shots than he missed (5-for-9).

When Coppin did have open looks, Carr and Kendley were there on defense, closing in as fast as the end of the season. Carr swatted three shots; Kendley had one, depositing a 3-point attempt into the front row for some of the announced 4,246 to enjoy.

“Sometimes you’re playing well,” Bozeman said. “Sometimes you’re not. Sometimes it’s other factors that I clearly can’t comment on that get in the way. Sometimes you’ve just got to play through it, and once we get through our last game this Thursday, then everybody’s 0-0. You can start over again. … We’ve got another season coming up.”

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COPPIN ST. (5-25): Andrews-Fulton 0-7 1-2 1, Council 5-9 1-2 12, K.Davis 4-12 1-2 10, Drummond 2-5 4-4 10, Morgan 1-11 0-0 3, Traore 0-0 0-0 0, Fair 0-0 0-0 0, Thomas 1-8 6-6 9, Auslander 2-6 3-3 8, Brownlee 0-0 3-3 3. Totals 15-58 19-22 56.

MORGAN ST. (11-17): Carr 5-9 0-0 12, Ennis 2-2 0-0 4, Kendley 9-19 8-10 27, Rawls 1-1 0-0 3, Cameron 3-8 0-1 6, Sykes 0-0 0-0 0, Gillespie 1-5 0-0 3, McCray-Pace 0-2 0-0 0, S.Davis 3-5 0-0 6, Gracey 3-3 1-2 8, Streeter 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 27-55 9-13 69.

Halftime—Morgan St. 37-23. 3-point goals—Coppin St. 7-26 (Drummond 2-3, Council 1-1, Auslander 1-4, Thomas 1-5, K.Davis 1-5, Morgan 1-8), Morgan St. 6-19 (Carr 2-2, Rawls 1-1, Gracey 1-1, Gillespie 1-5, Kendley 1-8, McCray-Pace 0-1, Streeter 0-1). Fouled out—Ennis. Rebounds—Coppin St. 34 (Council 10), Morgan St. 34 (Carr 14). Assists—Coppin St. 9 (K.Davis 5), Morgan St. 17 (Cameron 4). Total fouls—Coppin St. 15, Morgan St. 17. A—4,246 (4,250).

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