Men’s basketball defeated by Norfolk State in MEAC semifinals

Thursday’s loss snapped the Bears’ five-game winning streak after they lost to the Norfolk State Spartans 72-63.


Kristian Reynolds

Isaiah Burke and Malik Miller led the Bears in 14 points each in their loss to the Norfolk State Spartans.

Julien Johnson, Contributing Writer

NORFOLK, Va.– Norfolk State defeated Morgan State 72-63 in the semifinals of the MEAC Tournament at Scope Arena, snapping the Bears’ five-game winning streak and ending their season.

“We gave it our best. I’m proud of our guys,” coach Kevin Broadus. “The better team won.”

The Spartans outmuscled the Bears, particularly late in the second half where they held them scoreless for a six-minute period that proved too much to overcome.

No. 1 seed Norfolk faces the winner of the No. 7 Coppin State and No. 5 North Carolina Central in the championship on Saturday at 1 P.M. (ESPN2)

Reality settled in for the Bears near the end of the second half when they struggled to score a field goal for almost six minutes. 

Players hit lanes hard, secured clean looks at the basket, but shots rattled out of the rim, almost as if there was a lid attached.

This game was a replay of the 2021 MEAC championship game where Morgan lost 71-63 to Norfolk.

Morgan won the last game against Norfolk 85-74 on Feb. 21. This victory was the first win of their five-game winning streak entering the game.

From start to finish,  players on both sides were diving and falling on the floor. They knocked into each other and bumped around the paint for a crease to put up a shot.  

The first player to fall was senior guard Sherwyn  Devonish-Prince after he mistimed a block attempt on a thunderous slam by senior big Kris Bankston to start the game 0-2 and Devonish landed on his ankle. 

He returned to the game fairly quickly, but people on both teams kept absorbing hard falls and charges.

This gritty play was in addition to a multitude of emphatic slams from the Spartans, especially Bankston and junior guard Dana Tate, Jr. 

Bankston’s biggest play included a slam that roused the Norfolk players and fans in the second half. 

“When he’s dunking, our energy is right,” Norfolk State coach Robert Jones said about Tate.

Although the Spartans dunked all night, Morgan was in the game for the majority of the contest. At half-time, the game was tied at 28-all after a three-pointer from senior guard Trevor Moore.

Morgan hit eight 3-point attempts compared to Norfolk’s three attempts.

They fought hard, but their difficulties from the field and the free-throw line proved too big of a hill to climb against Norfolk.

Morgan ended the game shooting 23-60 from the field and 9-16 from the free-throw line while the Spartans shot 26-51 at 51 percent and 17-21 from the free-throw line at 81 percent.

“We put them on the foul line too much,” Broadus said.

The bulk of those misses happened during that almost six-minute stretch where they only hit two free throws and no field goals until Malik Miller made a layup with 1:39 remaining. But by then, it was too late.

“We just couldn’t get into a flow offensively,” Broadus said.

The Spartans closed out the game 72-63 against the Bears as the Norfolk players and fans celebrated their second straight trip to the MEAC Championship.

The Spartans finished with four players in double-figure scoring with senior guard Jalen Hawkins and senior guard Joe Bryant, the MEAC player of the year.

Hawkins and Bryant both scored 19 points. Kris Bankston finished with 14 points and junior forward Dana Tate, Jr. ended with 14 points to go along with 11 boards.

“It was a total team effort,” Jones said.

Morgan senior guard Isaiah Burke scored a team-high 14 points with four rebounds and five assists. Senior guard Malik Miller matched that 14 points and added eight rebounds.

Morgan finished the season 13-14 (7-7 MEAC).