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Morgan State Mourns Loss of Former WBB Coach Beasley

Courtesy: Courtesy of MSU Sports Information
          Release: 09/11/2017
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Courtesy: Courtesy of MSU Sports Information

BALTIMORE, Md. -- Former Morgan State women’s basketball head coach Donald Beasley passed away Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017 at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore, Md.

Hired on March 14, 2005, as Morgan State University’s seventh head coach since 1982, Beasley would change the culture of Lady Bears’ basketball. Affectionately known as ‘Beas’ by his players and staff or even ‘Papa Smurf’, based off of his self-named sideline dance, Beasley would become the program’s all-time winningest coach on Jan. 17, 2015, following a home victory over Florida A&M. That win would give him 123 for his career, passing LaRue Field (122 wins). Beasley would finish his career with 141 victories at Morgan State.

In his 11 seasons at the helm (2005-16), Beasley had at least one player receive all-conference honors each year: Dominisha Britton (2006 MEAC Rookie Team), Corin Adams (2007 MEAC-Rookie Team, 2008-10 MEAC first team, 2008 MEAC Defensive Player of the Year, 2010 MEAC Player of the Year), Whitney Johnson (2007 MEAC second team), Brittany Dodson (2011 MEAC second team), Tracey Carrington and Amarah Williams (2012 MEAC Rookie Team), Bianca Jarrett (2013 MEAC second team), Tracey Carrington 2014 MEAC second team), Braennan Farrar (2015 MEAC Rookie Team and 2016 MEAC second team).

Beasley also coached four MEAC All-Tournament Team selections in Corin Adams and Whitney Johnson (2007), Phylicia Jones (2008) and Bianca Jarrett (2013).

Under his guidance, Beasley’s teams twice set the school record for victories in a season on the Division I level and earned two Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) regular season runner-up finishes. Beasley led the Lady Bears to a MEAC Tournament championship game appearance and led Morgan State to its first-ever postseason appearance on the Division I level.

During the 2010-11 season, the Lady Bears captured their second straight MEAC runner-up finish during the regular season and earned the No. 2 seed in the MEAC Tournament, the program’s highest seed ever. Morgan State would drop a tough semifinal game to Howard, 55-51, but would receive the league’s automatic bid to the Women’s National Invitational Tournament (WNIT). It would be the program’s first-ever postseason appearance on the Division I level and the bid would come just a year after the school declined an invitation to the Pre-Season WNIT Tournament. The Lady Bears would eventually fall in a first round game at Virginia to conclude the season with a 17-15 mark, which included wins over mid-major programs, Saint Bonaventure, South Florida and George Washington.

The 2009-10 team went 17-13, 12-4 in the MEAC and tied Hampton as regular season co runner-ups, then the highest finish ever for Morgan State. The Lady Bears tied the school record for most MEAC wins (12) with the 1999-2000 squad, which went 12-6. The team would finish 9-1 at home and ranked 20th in the nation is steals per game at 11.0. Beasley guided the team to the program’s second win over a Big East opponent with win at Seton Hall, as well as a sweep of rival Coppin State for first time since 99-00. Adams would become the first player to score 2,000 points, finishing her career as the school’s all-time leading scorer (male or female) with 2,058 points. Adams was named MEAC Player of the Year and earned MEAC first team honors.

Just one year after setting the Division I school record for wins with 18 and being ranked third by on its ‘most improved teams’ list in 2006-07 behind Oklahoma State and Western Carolina, Beasley’s 2007-08 squad again made history, this time setting a new school record for victories with a 19-12 mark.

The 2007-08 team began the season defeating the University of Maryland Eastern Shore to record the program’s first back-to-back season-opening wins since 1982-84. The Lady Bears also swept the season series against MEAC foe Howard for the first time ever. The squad finished the season ranked third in the nation in steals per game with 13.3, while Adams also ranked third in the nation in steals with 3.97 per game. Adams would record the school’s first triple-double, finishing with 11 points, 10 assists and tying the school mark with 11 steals against North Carolina Central. Adams would earn All-MEAC first team honors and was named MEAC Defensive Player of the Year.

Perhaps his most famed coaching performance came during the 2006-07 campaign. If you spent too much time paying attention to his barking out of plays, pacing of the sideline and the occasional dancing to the music of the band, then you may have missed the outstanding coaching performance and transformation of a program that was going on under the direction of Beasley that season.

Heading into that season, Beasley was eager to get rid of the thoughts and bitter taste of his debut season during 2005-06, when the team finished 5-23. Beasley remained humble, but was also optimistic about the 2006-07 edition of the Lady Bears team and positive that things would be different and couldn’t wait to prove it.

In just his second season at the helm, Beasley transformed the women’s basketball program from one that was traditionally finishing 10th and 11th in the conference, to a championship contender. Beasley garnered MEAC Coach of the Year honors after guiding the Lady Bears to a school record for wins on the Division I level, finishing 18-13, fourth-place in the MEAC and the program’s third appearance in the MEAC title game, after being predicted to finish 10th in the league standings.

Along the way, during that 06-07 season, Morgan State swept regular season series against MEAC foes, Hampton, Norfolk State, Maryland Eastern Shore, South Carolina State and Bethune-Cookman. The Lady Bears had a season-long five-game winning streak, which were the most consecutive wins since the 1999-2000 season, and Morgan also recorded five non-conference victories, the most since the 1999-2000 team won four non-conference games.

Among those wins, Morgan State began the season by defeating New Jersey Institute of Technology on the road to record the program’s first season opening win in 23 years. The Lady Bears collected their first win ever over an Ivy League opponent, when they defeated Cornell on the road and later collected back-to-back wins over Lafayette and Mount St. Mary’s. Morgan State picked up its third win over an Atlantic-10 opponent when it earned the program’s first-ever victory over Fordham in five meetings.

Beasley’s work didn’t stop there. Under his guidance, the Lady Bears earned their first MEAC Tournament win in seven years after defeating Hampton in the quarterfinals. Morgan State then ended a 14-game losing skid to two-time defending tournament champion Coppin State with an upset victory in the semifinals, which also ended the Lady Eagles’ 49-game winning streak against MEAC opponents, before running out of gas and falling to Delaware State in the title game. Guards Corin Adams and Whitney Johnson were named to the All-MEAC Rookie Team and All-MEAC second team, respectively, and both earned all-tournament honors.

When Beasley, a 1984 graduate of Morgan State took over the women’s basketball program in 2005, clearly, nobody thought the 2005-06 campaign was going to be easy for him in his first season with the Lady Bears. Beasley was taking over a program which had a combined record of 9-102 the previous four seasons, prior to his arrival. The women’s basketball program hadn’t had double digits in wins in five years and hadn’t had a winning season since posting a 17-12 mark during the 1999-2000 campaign.

While the 2005-06 campaign ended with yet another losing record (5-23), single digit wins and a first round exit in the MEAC Tournament for the sixth consecutive season, Beasley quietly began to turn the program around.

He had guided the team to five wins, its most in five seasons. The Lady Bears swept a home series in early February against MEAC foes South Carolina State and North Carolina A&T to record their first back-to-back wins in five years.

Morgan State led the conference in rebounding offense (45.2 rpg) and defensive rebounds (27.79 rpg), while Latricia Jones ranked second in rebounding at 8.6. She even set a school record, grabbing 24 boards, which finished third most in the nation. Beasley had also produced a MEAC All-Rookie Team selection in Dominisha Britton, who finished second on the team in scoring.