NCCU runs by Morgan State, still unbeaten in MEAC
N.C. Central hasn’t lost all month, getting its seventh straight win Monday night in front of a McDougald-McLendon Gymnasium crowd that is developing a palate for the sweet taste of success in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
NCCU beat Morgan State 69-61, the score indicative of a closely contested ballgame.
The Eagles (13-7, 6-0 MEAC) had a little bit more heart than the Bears, Morgan State coach Todd Bozeman said.
“It wouldn’t be far-fetched to say they wanted it more, and they worked at it,” Bozeman said. “Clearly, we have size, we have talent. But we’ve just got to do a better job of focusing. We’ve got to do the little things.
“You’re not going to win many ballgames if you miss 17 free throws and (have) 18 turnovers.”
About that size Bozeman referred to, Morgan State had 7-2 center Ian Chiles in its starting lineup.
NCCU’s Jay Copeland had to guard him.
“I’m only 6-7,” Copeland said.
The gameplan was to use ball screens to keep Chiles away from the basket, NCCU coach LeVelle Moton said.
The Eagles wanted to spread the floor and make Chiles chase guys, NCCU forward Stanton Kidd said.
Copeland, who ended up fouling out with 10 points and four rebounds, said Moton told him not to worry about getting his points but instead to focus on keeping Morgan State’s big guy from scoring.
“Ultimately, we got the win. He didn’t do his thing like he would like to,” Copeland said about Chiles. “He was frustrated.”
Justin Black and Anthony Hubbard each scored 20 points for Morgan State (6-11, 3-3).
NCCU senior Ray Willis led the Eagles with 19 points.
After NCCU beat Coppin State on Saturday, Willis and teammate Antonin Galaya returned to the court to put up some shots. The extra work appeared to pay off for Willis against Morgan State.
Chiles got Morgan State within three points of NCCU with a free throw late in the second half.
The Eagles went to their ball-weave sequence, waiting for something to open up. Willis dumped the ball to Kidd, who caught it and hung in the air before finishing with a strong layup with 1:14 left in the game.
Kidd (13 points, seven rebounds) said he could not have cared less about all of those long Morgan State arms in the paint.
“I’ll put it like this: If you block me, it’s all good. I’m going to come right back at you,” Kidd said. “You’re going to have to block them all night.”
“I thought we fought. That’s what I knew it was going to come down to,” Moton said. “It’s not about Xs and Os. It’s just pretty much about toughness and competing and making simple plays.
“It’s just a matter of whose going to be tough enough to execute them.”
NCCU 69, Morgan St. 61
Percentages: FG .457, FT .469. 3-Point Goals: 4-14, .286 (Black 3-4, Hubbard 1-3, Pretlow 0-1, Bozeman 0-3, Jackson 0-3). Team Rebounds: 1. Blocked Shots: 3 (Chiles 2, Jackson). Turnovers: 18 (Hubbard 6, Jackson 4, Black 2, Chiles 2, Pretlow 2, Simpson, Heath). Steals: 8 (Pretlow 2, Black 2, Heath, Bailey, Jackson, Hubbard).
Percentages: FG .476, FT .788. 3-Point Goals: 3-14, .214 (Chapman 1-2, Galaya 1-2, Willis 1-3, Jawara 0-1, Ingram 0-2, Kidd 0-4). Team Rebounds: 2. Blocked Shots: 1 (Willis). Turnovers: 16 (Chapman 3, Kidd 3, Ingram 2, Galaya 2, Willis 2, Houston, Jawara, Copeland). Steals: 8 (Willis 3, Chapman 3, Kidd, Houston).
A—2,417. Officials—Frankie Bordeaux, Lionel Butler, Gene Griffin.