The Bears needed a stop, and forward Rasean Simpson swatted Tigers forward John Davis' layup. Morgan State guard Donte Pretlow then corralled the loose ball, sprinted the length of the court and finished above two Tigers defenders to make it a one-point game with 19 seconds remaining.
Morgan State wouldn't score another point, though, and Towson would seal a 51-46 victory on the road.
"We got to grow," Morgan State coach Todd Bozeman said. "That's part of the deal."
For both teams, Monday's matchup was a chance to bounce back after a losing start to the season. Morgan State suffered a 61-48 loss to Penn State in its first game Friday night, while Towson opened with an 82-54 defeat to Alabama the same night.
"Obviously, when you come off a loss, you want the next game," Bears center Zech Smith said. "It's the one thought in your mind."
Still, both teams struggled offensively throughout the game. The Bears and the Tigers shot less than 17 percent from 3-point range in the first half and finished the game shooting less than 40 percent from the field. Towson was also 14 of 23 from the free-throw line, which helped keep Morgan State in the game.
But the Bears couldn't take advantage. The team shot a dismal 9.1 percent from 3-point range in the second half, capped by guard Clive Vaughn Jr.'s potential game-tying 3-point attempt that clanged off the back rim.
"We got better shots [and] open looks," Pretlow said. "We just got to capitalize on our opportunities."
With Towson leading, 9-7, after a back-and-forth opening seven minutes, the Tigers went on a 9-3 run to take an 18-10 lead with 11:00 left in the half. Still, the Bears closed the deficit to 25-22 at halftime.
Morgan State took the lead in the opening four minutes of the second half. Guard Blake Bozeman drew a foul and hit the floater to tie the game, and he made the ensuing free throw to make it 27-26.
On the next possession, Smith swatted Tigers forward Timajh Parker-Rivera's dunk attempt, causing the Morgan State fans to erupt in cheers. Simpson's steal and fast break dunk capped the Bears' 9-1 scoring run that made it 31-26, their largest lead of the game.
The Tigers stuck around, though, and guard Four McGlynn's 3-pointer tied it at 35 with 11:32 left in the game. Towson regained the lead less than five minutes later, and the team held a 47-44 advantage entering the final minute of the game. Vaughn's missed 3-point attempt was Morgan State's last chance to salvage the game.
"I take that nine out of 10 times," Bozeman said. "[Vaughn] can really shoot the ball; he just didn't make the shot."
The Bears will travel to Cedar Falls, Iowa, for their next game against Northern Iowa on Thursday. Towson plays in CBE Classic games against Central Connecticut State on Friday and Bethune-Cookman on Saturday in West Long Branch, N.J.
"I think we're still trying to figure it out," Morgan State coach Todd Bozeman said. "[We] grew up a little bit [and] played with a little bit more aggressiveness than we did the other night."