Men’s basketball recap of first five games

The MSU Spokesman

The men’s basketball team started their much anticipated season a little underhanded. They are missing star guard Tiwian Kendley who is out due to a suspension. Despite missing their leading scorer from last year, the Bears managed to start their season with a winning record (3-2).

Consistent play from the bench and contributions from new players have carried the team during the absence of Kendley. According to Head coach Todd Bozeman, he was suspended for a violation of team rules, and is out indefinitely.

Senior forward Phil Carr has been helped by guards, junior Martez Cameron and freshman newcomer Lapri McCray-Pace. They have all averaged around ten points per game to help fill the scoring void left because of missing Kendley, who was the leading scorer (21 points per game) of the conference last season.

With high expectations this season, finishing the non-conference schedule with a record above .500 would be a great step towards a successful season. Here is a recap of the first five games of the Bears season:

Morgan @ Binghamton University. The Bears started their season on the road, when the visited the Bearcats of Binghamton. This game was very competitive in the first half, as Morgan did a good job of limiting the Bearcats on offense, and took a lead into halftime 30-29.

The game began to get away from Morgan, as the Bearcats started the second half with a 19-2 run. Unfortunately, the Morgan Bears were never able to recover and lost 76-59. Carr lead the team with 14 points, and sophomore guard Stanley Davis contributed 13 points off the bench.

Morgan @ University of South Florida. For their next game the Bears traveled to Tampa Bay, Florida to take on the Bulls. Morgan may have been seen as an underdog to the 20,000 student school, but they did not get the message. As they took an early lead in the game, they knew that they could beat this team, and were determined not to let this game get away from them.

The Bear’s defense frustrated the Bulls, forcing them into 12 turnovers and holding them under 35 percent shooting from the field. McCray-Pace led the team with 15 points, shooting 3-4 from three point range. The key to the game was the production of the bench that combined to score 23 points to help lead the way to a 63-53 victory.

Lincoln University vs. Morgan. The season’s home opener was not only the team’s introduction, but one for the updated Hill Field House, to the students. The new floors, scoreboards, sideline displays, as well as the new Morgan hall of fame installation, were on full display for a crowd of over 3,000. The Bears did not start this game well, thanks to shooting 28 percent from the field. Due to bad shot selection, and sloppy play, the Bears found themselves trailing at halftime 32-30.

Coach Bozeman was not happy about the first half performance, and let them know at halftime.”I thought they disrespected them a little bit, looking past them,” said Bozeman “It pissed me off, because I don’t coach like that, I don’t coach them to overlook anybody, I coach them to prepare for everyone the same way.”

The team responded in the second half, retaking the lead with better defense and some timely three pointers. Morgan forward Carr may not had the offensive game he wanted, but still led the team with 12 points, and set a career high with 19 rebounds.The game remained close until the end when the Bears pulled away to finish with a twelve point win 72-60.

“We didn’t come out with the same energy like we did versus South Florida,” said Carr,”It starts with me, I think I came in the game to [lackadaisical], I feel like I’ve come into the season the same, I will pick that up.”

Morgan @ West Virginia University. The Mountaineers of West Virginia entered this game as the number 24 ranked college basketball team in the country. Needless to say, this is probably the best team Morgan will face all season. The difference in the two teams was evident early on. After the Bears took a 3-2 lead, the Mountaineers went on a 37-5 run to blow the game out. The final score was 111-48 with West Virginia’s Daxter Miles Jr. leading all scorers with 32 points.

Goldey Beacom College vs Morgan. The Bears welcomed the Delaware school into Hill Field House for their second home game of season. The Lightning were no match for the Bear’s balanced offensive attack. They had three players in double-figure scoring, led by the freshman duo of McCray-Pace and guard Kyson Rawls, who combined for 34 points.

“I just took the open shots, the best shots they gave me,that’s all,” said leading scorer McCray-Pace, “I just take the open shots,confidence that’s all it is, coach Bozeman talks about it everyday, make sure you’re ready, at all times.”

The bench contributed again with 42 points, helping out Carr, who had a bad shooting day going 1 for 9 from the field. The second half was sloppy, due to 15 turnovers.  Despite leading by 24 at half, the Bears only won the game 82-67. Once again coach Bozeman was not pleased with his team’s performance.

“Obviously I feel that a win’s a win’s, I want to get the win,” said Bozeman “we just did not play well, not to take away anything, or talk bad about coach Dekmar(Goldey Beacom), but we just didn’t play well. I mean 26 turnovers, that’s crazy.”

Going Forward. This was the last home game for the Bears until early January. They play the next eight games on the road, including many games in the Maryland area. They do have two games out west before returning to Baltimore to start the MEAC season versus the University of Maryland Eastern Shore on Jan. 3. They were picked in the preseason to win the MEAC, after finishing third in the conference last year.

This team needs to sure up its ball security going forward. They average over 18 turnovers a game, including 53 in the past two games. One bright spot about the past five games, besides the wins, is the three point shooting. They are shooting 40 percent from long range, while making over five three pointers per game. The eventual return of Kendley to the lineup will help starting offense find their rhythm, but the rest of the team has picked up the slack.