The Morgan State Bears fell short on punching their ticket to the NCAA Tournament and becoming MEAC champs. The team battled all night against the North Carolina A&T Aggies, but the game outcome was 57-54. This was the second time the Bears saw the Aggies this year- their first encounter of a regular season conference game in late January ended in a Bears win 55-52. This time the game came down to a last minute shot, and there was more on the line other than bragging rights.
The Bears closed the first half on a 9-4 run. The second half was fight as well, but the Aggies went on an 8-3 run putting them ahead 51-43. In the closing seconds of the second half, The Bears pulled within one (55-54) after a major wing shot three-pointer from Blake Bozeman, his only field goal of the game. Aggies senior forward Adrian Powell hit two clutch free throws with 23.4 seconds left put the Aggies up 57-54.
This game was all about free throws and both teams struggled from the line. The Aggies went 8-17 (47.1 %) and the Bears went 8-20 (40%). Bears coach Todd Bozeman said after the game, “You’re not going to win many games if you shoot 40 percent from the free throw line, Eight-for-20’s not a good look.”
It all came down to free throw shots. After a miss free throw shot from Aggies Jeremy Underwood that would have closed the game out and put the Aggies up four, the Bears were left with 7 seconds left on the clock to make a game tying three. Bears senior forward DeWayne Jackson tried to put up a desperation three, but it was broken up by Powell who hustled back to defend Jackson. Jackson lead the Bears with 20 points, but had his 3-point try swatted away by Powell with a few seconds to play, and then missed a contested three again at the buzzer but it hit fell short.
This win for Aggies advanced them to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1995; Morgan hasn’t won the MEAC since the 2009-10 season after winning the MEAC two years straight.
The Bears fought extremely hard for Jackson, who is the only senior on the team, and wanted to take him and coach Bozeman to the NCAA Tournament. Morgan State finished in 5th place of the MEAC conference going 10-6 in conference games and finishing the season with an overall record of 17-15.