Morgan State Wins 2010 MEAC Men's Tournament
Winston-Salem, N.C., March 13 - Kevin Thompson scored a game-high 18 points to lead four players in double figures as Morgan State defeated South Carolina State, 68-61 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament championship at the Joel Coliseum.
The Bears (27-9), the regular season champion and defending tournament champ, receive an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament and will await the pairings which will be announced on Sunday.
Thompson, a 6-8, 240-pound sophomore from Baltimore, MD and the MEAC Defensive Player of the Year, hit on 8-of-10 from the field, grabbed 10 rebounds and blocked five shots.
Reggie Holmes, a 6-4 senior guard from Baltimore, MD and MEAC Player of the Year, contributed 17 points and DeWayne Jackson, the MEAC Rookie of the Year and Joe Davis contributed 12 and 10 off the bench.
The first half was one of runs. First the Bears went on an 11-3 run to take a 20-10 lead at the 7:50 mark. It was fueled by three straight 3-pointers, two by Jackson, and one by Holmes.
The Bulldogs countered with a run of their own as Tyvonn Williams, Jason Flagler and Darnell Porter combined for nine of their points during a 13-2 run.
Morgan State then finished the half strong with a 7-2 spurt to take a 29-24 lead at the break.
"This was a total team effort," said Todd Bozeman. "Everyone stepped up. We have learned to play through adversity all season."
Thompson made good on all three of his shots from the field and grabbed five rebounds as the Bears shot 50 percent (12 of 24) from the field.
The Bulldogs (18-14) were able to stay close despite missing 19 of 25 shots. They compensated by converting 10 for 13 free throw attempts.
SC State put together what would be its last run of the game, this time an 8-2 run that gave the Bulldogs their first and only lead of the second half at 32-31 on a 3-point basket by Porter at the 16:42 mark.
That is when Thompson and the Bears took control, embarking on a 21-8 run over an eight-minute span to open the biggest lead of the second half at 52-40. Thompson scored 10 of the points during the run, grabbed some key rebounds and blocked shots as SC State had no answer for the tourney MVP.
"They did a good job of going to their strengths and exploited our weakness inside," said SC State head coach Tim Carter. "Not being able to stop Thompson inside was the difference."
The Bulldogs were able to get within six on a couple of occasions but each time, they were repelled by Joe Davis, Troy Smith, Jackson or Holmes.
"Joe Davis gives the team flexibility," said Bozeman. "Troy Smith is an unsung hero for this team because he is steady and consistent."
The Bulldogs were able to shoot the ball better the second half but were not able to overcome a 34-16 advantage in the paint.
The Bulldogs, who were the Number 3 seed, were led by Khalif Toombs, who tallied 13 of his 15 in the second half and Porter and Flagler, who each finished with 12
In SC State's win over Morgan State in February, Flagler proved to be the difference as he scored 24 points. The first team all-MEAC selection was held to 12 points.
"The defensive game plan was to slow him down," said Bozeman. "We made a concentrated effort to crowd him and not let get out of control because that is what he did the last time we played."
The Bears shot 53 percent for the game and outscored the SC State bench, 22-12.
"When we shoot the ball well, we have a chance to win," explained Coach Carter. "We shot 31 percent and they shot 53 and that is the ballgame right there."
Flagler, Thompson and Holmes were named to the all-tournament team along with Nic Simpson of North Carolina A&T and Hillary of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Thompson was named the tournament most outstanding performer and Bozeman the outstanding tournament coach.