Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
Most coaches and players will single out one play that turns around a game. And both Howard Coach A.B. Williamson and Morgan State's Aaron Johnson agreed the play last night happened with seven minutes remaining and Howard holding a 61-60 lead.
Working out of a delay offense, Morgan State's Eric (The Pencil) Evans suddenly lofted a high lob pass to, of all people, 6-foot-2 Darrell Davis, who in one motion caught the ball with one hand and slammed it through the basket. The play seemed to inspired Morgan State and it held on to dump Howard, 77-73, in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference game before 1,585 at Morgan State.
The Davis dunk was followed immediately by a three-point play by Morgan's Anthony Young and a short jump by Evans. The rush sent Morgan State streaking to a 67-61 advantage with 4:06 left. The Bison never recovered.
"That's one of our plays. Darrell usually makes two or three of those a game," said Evans, who finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds. "I think the dunk helped us more than it hurt them. We didn't think we could lose after than."
Howard's full-court pressure forced three turnovers in the final three minutes and the Bison drew within a point at 72-71 on a follow-up basket by Mike Pressley with 48 seconds left.
But Robert Brown, Davis and Garcia Hopkins sank free throws in the waning seconds for the Bears, 7-3 in conference play and 11-11 overall.
Howard's frustration was clearly evident as Pressley tried to call a time out and stepped out of the lane while Brown was missing the second shot of his one-in-one opportunity. Pressley was called for a line violation and Brown, awarded another shot, sank his third attempt and Morgan went up, 74-71, with 27 seconds left.
That mistake turned out to be another "little thing" that hurt. Howard didn't score again until Louis Wilson threw in a long basket with five seconds left.
"We had two things on our backboard. Play with smarts and watch the clock and scoreboard. We didn't do either. You can't afford to make those kinds of mistakes, especially away from home," said Williamson. The dunk was a key play but one that hurt us was gambling for a steal when we were ahead."
The play Williamson was referring to happened shortly before the Davis dunk.
Mike Nettles' jumper from the foul line pushed Howard ahead, 61-60, and Williamson was content to lay back and let the Bears run its four corner stall.
But a Howard player overplayed and went for a steal and Davis broke for the basket and leaped high above everything and dropped in his heart-stopper.
"I saw a couple of Howard players drop their heads after the shot," said Morgan first-year coach Johnson, who suffered his worst loss of the year against the Bison, 93-74, earlier this season.
"We weren't going to do the same things that beat us the first time we played them. We had a few sick players and we had to slow down the game a little. But our four corners is not to stall, we want to get short jumpers out of it."
Morgan State did race ahead 30-19, with four minutes left in the first half. But reserve forward Carlton Richardson and Andre Byrd came off the bench to give the Bison a lift. Richardson threw in five points and Byrd, in addition to settling down flat Howard, sank a 22-footer at the buzzer. Byrd was fouled and sank the free throw to pull Howard to 33-30.