Stephen-Michael Thompson Jr., Staff Writer
With a seemingly safe five point lead coming out of the halftime break against a mid-tier conference opponent, the Morgan State University men’s basketball team looked poised to rebound from their second conference loss of the season against the Delaware State Hornets.
The Hornets had a different set of plans, slowly chipping away at the Bears then-growing lead, before a 17-4 run gave them a lead that they held on to the rest of the game to win 56-45.
The Bears struggled offensively in the first half. They missed many layups and did not turn their aggressive defensive play into many points. According to junior forward Phillip Carr, the team came out “really slow and sluggish”.
Despite their sluggishness, a stout defense kept Morgan ahead. The team tallied seven blocks, five of which was supplied by Freshman forward Tj Hai Byers. MSU also accumulated six steals in the first half as well.
Those efforts kept MSU’s lead to 23-18 as the teams reached halftime.
The Bears came out stronger in the second half; their first offensive possession lasted for 1:17 to start the half off and after over three minutes into the second half, Morgan State gained five offensive rebounds.
Morgan created as much as a nine point lead with over 16 minutes to go before things started going south. With 11 minutes to go, Delaware State tied the game at 34.
Delaware State consistently responded with jump shots and accurate free throw shooting as Morgan fought to come back. The Bears were on the brink of obtaining the lead in the last few minutes, but a Hornets three pointer increased their deficit to 8 points with 4:17 left in the 2nd half, from which the Bears could not recover.
When discussing their second half defensive woes, head coach Todd Bozeman said “you can’t give up 38 points in the 2nd Half.”
“[We’ve] got to finish games on the offensive and defensive side of the floor,” said junior guard Tiwian Kendley, who lead the team with 17 points. He observed that his team “has to make some adjustments” to fix their issues on the floor.
The Bears (10-13, 7-3 MEAC) loss to to the Hornets (9-18, 6-6 MEAC) marks their second straight loss in MEAC play. Their next contest will be on the road to against their beltway rival Howard University on February 13th.