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Towson gets past Morgan State in sloppy early-season game

Towson, MD--11/16/15-- Towson #10 John Davis and Morgan State's #13 Tyler Streeter fight for a first half loose ball. Towson #15 Timajh Parker-River also in on the play. Morgan State University vs. Towson University men's NCAA basketball at the SECU Arena.
Towson, MD--11/16/15-- Towson #10 John Davis and Morgan State's #13 Tyler Streeter fight for a first half loose ball. Towson #15 Timajh Parker-River also in on the play. Morgan State University vs. Towson University men's NCAA basketball at the SECU Arena.(Lloyd Fox / Baltimore Sun)

Monday night's local men's college basketball showdown between Morgan State and Towson was the second game of the young season, and both teams demonstrated they are far from a finished product.

The squads combined for 32 turnovers, with the host Tigers committing 18. The offenses shot just 37.2 percent from the floor (44-for-118), with the Bears enduring a tough showing at 36.5 percent (23-for-64).

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But Towson did just enough to emerge with a 69-61 decision at SECU Arena.

Three players scored double-digit points for the Tigers (1-1). Junior forward John Davis came off the bench to pace the team with 16 points and six rebounds. Sophomore point guard Byron Hawkins added 15 points, five rebounds and three assists, and junior forward Walter Foster chipped in 11 points and seven rebounds.

Still, the offense left a lot to be desired after shooting just 27.3 percent behind the 3-point arc (3-for-1) and making 63.2 percent of its free throws (24-for-38).

"Their zone slowed us up," coach Pat Skerry said. "Our ball movement wasn't good. But the thing I'm probably happy about is we found a way to hold on and win, which we didn't a year ago. We've got work to do, but we're slowly rounding into speed. And we did statistically what we normally do. We defended, we rebounded, we went to the foul line."

The Bears were able to contain Towson's two biggest scoring threats in junior forward Arnaud William Adala Moto and sophomore guard Mike Morsell. After scoring 28 points and grabbing nine rebounds in Saturday's 78-76 loss at La Salle, Moto, the transfer from Wake Forest, was shut out in the first half and finished the game with just seven points on 1-for-4 shooting. He did collect a team-high eight rebounds.

Morsell, who scored 13 points and had five assists in the opener, was even colder, shooting just 10 percent from the floor (1-for-10) and registering six points.

Hawkins said the onus is on every player to fill voids where they exist.

"Everybody has to be aggressive because it's not going to be Moto every night, it's not going to be me every night, it's not going to be Walter, it's not going to be Mike," said Hawkins, who has averaged 14.0 points and 3.5 assists thus far. "Everybody has to be ready to step in because we've got good players and everybody can score."

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The Bears trailed 61-57 with 52.0 seconds left, but junior guard Andre Horne Jr. missed a 3-point attempt, and Moto was fouled while grabbing the defensive rebound.

After Moto sank both free throws, senior guard Donte Pretlow missed a 3-pointer, and Morgan State was forced to foul sophomore guard Eddie Keith II, who connected on both free throws.

The Bears' ensuing possession ended with a Morsell steal, and Towson held on for the win.

The Tigers opened the game by taking a 7-3 lead. But they then converted just one of their next eight shots from the floor.

That opened the door for Morgan State to embark on a 9-2 run and take a 12-9 lead. Freshman guard Anthony Tate scored four points to power the Bears. But Towson regained the advantage by going 4-for-6 from the free-throw line to key an 8-3 burst.

Morgan State scored four of the next five points to go up 19-18 with 6:09 left in the first half, but the Tigers closed out the period with a 14-6 run and entered halftime with a 32-25 advantage. During that run, Hawkins scored seven points and Davis scored five.

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Horne led all scorers with 27 points and tied sophomore forward Phillip Carr for the team lead in rebounds with nine. But no other player reached double digits for Morgan State, which played its second game with 2014-15 leading scorer Cedric Blossom and projected starter Rasean Simpson serving five- and six-game suspensions, respectively, for a university certification snafu.

Coach Todd Bozeman was incensed that the Bears went to the free-throw line just 10 times to Towson's 38 — including just twice in the second half.

"How they go to the line 38 times is beyond me," he said. "He [Skerry] does a great job and they work hard, and they offensive rebound like a champ. But that's just crazy, the stuff they were calling out there."

twitter.com/EdwardLeeSun

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