Morgan State Uses Balanced Attack in Win Over Norfolk State
Winston-Salem, N.C., March 14 - Reggie Holmes scored a team-high 20 points to lead four players in double figures as Morgan State defeated Norfolk State in the championship game of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament at the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The Bears (23-11) earn the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament. The pairings will be announced on Sunday evening.
Morgan State came out shaky at the start, missing seven of its first eight shots and turning the ball over three times in the first six minutes to fall behind, 10-2. The Spartans (13-18), who had advanced to the championship game for the first time after a grueling come-from-behind win over South Carolina State on Friday, came out the blocks in good shape as Corey Lyons and Michael DeLoach combined for all of the points.
“We came out a little shaky at the start and were not playing our game,” said Morgan State head coach Todd Bozeman. “I told the guys to settle down and start to play our game. Once we did that, things began to flow.”
Morgan State began to settle down by using some rock solid defense that triggered an 18-0 run over a 4:26 span that was culminated on a 3-point basket by Jermaine “Itchy” Bolden. The Bears continued their roll and got the deficit into double digits before Norfolk State closed the margin to 32-25 at the half.
“We were able to get more production from our bigs tonight,” said Bozeman. “They got ribbed a little bit from the guards about how they played last night so they stepped it up tonight. I thought Kevin (Thompson), Marquise (Kately), (Rodney) Stokes and Ameer (Ali) all contributed.”
The gutty Spartans cut the deficit to a workable margin on four different occasions, but each time the Bears had an answer. If it was not Holmes knocking down one of his long-range bombs, it was Bolden breaking down the defense and drawing fouls. And when Morgan State needed some production in the paint area, it was Kately, Thompson and Ali there to help. Morgan State had a 25-10 advantage on second chance points, 15-8 on the offensive glass and 23-11 from its bench.
The Spartans relied almost solely on their first team all-MEAC guard DeLoach, who poured in 30 points. Lyons, a second team all-MEAC pick, was effective early but he got into a foul trouble and the Spartans did not have enough to offset the Bears’ balance.
“Obviously, they are a very physical basketball team and they and they battled tonight and got loose balls,” said Norfolk State head coach Anthony Evans. “The key was the play of their point guard (Bolden). He is a very good point guard. Last year, he was not as effective. He knocked down shots for them and is very effective in running their offense.”
Holmes, a first team all-conference pick and the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, finished with 20, Bolden tallied 18, Kately with 16 and 7 rebounds and Thompson, a freshman with a double-double of 15 points and 11 rebounds.
GAME NOTES: Tywain McKee (Coppin State), Mike DeLoach (Norfolk State), Corey Lyons (Norfolk State), CJ Reed (Bethune-Cookman) and Reggie Holmes (Morgan State) were named to the all-tournament team and Morgan State Coach Todd Bozeman was named Tournament Outstanding Coach.