Morgan Men’s Basketball Tried but Failed to Bethune-Cookman

Penelope Blackwell

The Morgan State Bears played host to the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats on Monday night. After being picked to finish ninth in the preseason poll, the Wildcats have been one of the surprise teams of the conference, currently sitting in third place (10-3).

The Bears (6-7) kept the game close, but in the end fell in overtime 97-94. This game featured 17 lead changes and neither team had a lead more than seven points. The first half was slow paced with both teams trying to feel another out. The second half was much faster, and exciting with both teams trading threes and dunks.

Senior guard Tiwian Kendley led the Bears with a season high 41 points,  but it was not enough. Bethune-Cookman guard Brandon Tabb almost matched him with 34 points, hitting seven three pointers. He was joined by his teammate Isaiah Bailey, who scored 28, including the clutch three pointer to help send the game into overtime.

“[I knew] we had to stop the ball, to have a chance to win the game,” said Kendley,”stopping Tabb, he is a great player, we tried to stop him in transition. That’s a great team right there, we had to limit their shots, we did a little bit, but obviously they’re good team.”

The game changed for the Bears early in the first half, when forward Phil Carr rolled his ankle. He was forced to leave the game, but tried to play in the second half and was noticeably limping. Coach Todd Bozeman decided it wasn’t worth further injury, and sat him the rest of the game.

The team stepped up in his absence, with forward David Syfax scoring 17 points and guard Kyson Rawls adding 14. The freshman guard almost scored a game winning three with a second left, but the shot was overturned because of an offensive foul on an illegal screen. The call was made right in front of the Bears bench and coach Bozeman was visibly upset with the call.

“I clearly didn’t think that was an offensive foul at the end of the game,” said coach Bozeman “I just don’t know how you call that, good gracious man, let it go off of the shot.”

The last play was not the reason that the Bears lost this game, they had many opportunities to close out the game, but either missed free throws or had costly turnovers. They must find a way to clean up the mistakes if they hope to win in the MEAC tournament. With only three games left, they can only hope to get Carr back healthy, and build some momentum towards the championship.

“Obviously a tough one…you can’t turn the ball over late in the game, you got to execute,” said coach Bozeman. “We had some breakdowns mentally, that maybe the casual fan wouldn’t see, but again we had some opportunities [to win].”