Men’s Basketball advances to semifinals after defeating South Carolina State

Morgan State’s men’s basketball team squeaked by its opponent Thursday night to advance in the next round of the MEAC tournament.


Kristian Reynolds

The Bears advance to the semifinals to play the Norfolk State Spartans on Friday at 6 p.m.

Julien Johnson, Contributing Writer

NORFOLK, Va. – The Bears improved their winning streak to five consecutive as they pulled off a gutsy 80-77 win over South Carolina State at Scope Arena. 

Skating by helped Morgan punch its ticket to the semifinals of the MEAC Tournament on Friday where it faces top-seeded Norfolk State.

Morgan (8-6) routed Norfolk State 85-74 on Feb. 21 to help close the season on a positive note after injuries and bad play plagued the team earlier.

Now the Bears face the team coach Kevin Broadus called “King of the Hill.” The Spartans (12-2) led the regular-season with conference wins. 

“We’re going to give it our best,” Broadus said of facing Norfolk. He said past performances mean very little during tournament time. 

That was evident Thursday as they struggled to beat a team they had twice defeated during the regular season. 

Like those two previous games, this game was close through its entirety with the Bears staging their largest lead at 66-56 with 8:49 remaining in the second half.

That lead, though, didn’t last long.

The Bulldogs went on a 9-2 run to pull the game within three points at 68-65 with six minutes left. The teams traded buckets thereafter, resulting in a dramatic finish to the game.

After sophomore guard Rashaad Edwards hit a 3-pointer to pull the Bulldogs ahead 75-74, Morgan responded with a big-time 3-pointer on its next possession.

Morgan senior guard Sherwyn Devonish found guard Isaiah Burke for a game-clinching three-pointer with 1:07 left to place the Bears ahead 78-74.

South Carolina State rallied with a few clutch buckets, but the Bulldogs fell short as Morgan rebounded and cleared the ball in the final seconds. 

The Bears watched as the Bulldogs struggled to find the rim with South Carolina guard Rahsaan Edwards’ launching a 3-pointer that rimmed out.  

They rebounded the missed shot but guard Deaquan Williams was unable to tie the game with 1.1 seconds remaining. 

“For a minute they were the best team,” Broadus said. 

And then they weren’t. 

“We just kept fighting and fighting and we ended up on the victory side,” Broadus added.

Both teams shot efficiently from the field with the Bears shooting 54 percent from the field  (31 for 57) and 45 percent, and South Carolina State shooting 47 percent from the field (29 for 61) and 34 percent from the 3-point line. 

The Bears strayed from taking hurried 3-point shots, but when they needed one, they splashed the nets– finishing 5 for 11 from 3-point range. 

Broadus said that since mid-season they haven’t really taken a lot of threes.

“We used to take 20, 25, 30 threes a game. Now we’re down to between 10 to 15 max,” Broadus said.

“Our offense has gotten better because we stopped taking a lot of threes,” Broadus said. “Our offense is so good that if the movement is right, we’re going to get open baskets.”

This was proved by how their sophomore big man Chad Venning had 11 points in just the first half and finished with 15 total points on 7 for 12 shooting.

Senior guard Malik Miller finished with 16 points on 8-8 shooting from the field to go along with seven rebounds and three steals. 

“The offense is designed perfectly for the way I play,” Miller said. “I try to get to the cup. That’s my strength.”

Miller and the Bears hope to carry the momentum into Friday’s game. Their victory over No. 1 seed Norfolk State ignited their current five-game winning streak. The plan is to keep winning. 

“I expect us to win,” he said.