Over the years, folks have come to expect just about anything at a Howard-Morgan State basketball game. The longtime rivalry often produces rafter-shaking noise and gobs of excitement.
Last night, Howard did all the rafter-shaking as it dominated both boards and gave a clinic on layups on dunks for shell-shocked Morgan State in rolling up a 97-64 triumph in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference game at Burr Gymnasium.
The Bison, now 2-1 in the conference and 9-5 overall, were obviously still miffed over a two-point loss to Delaware State here Saturday night and had made up their minds to take it out on the Bears (0-1, 4-9).
"We were trying to have a good game after that loss (92-90); play with intensity for 40 minutes," said the pleased Bison coach, A. B. Williamson. "Anytime we saw a lull period, we got on the players."
Unfortunately for MSU, there weren't many lull periods. Howard jumped ahead from the tipoff on the shooting of Bernard Perry and inside play of James Ratiff, Larry Spriggs and James Terry.
Spriggs (12 points) hit two straight 15-footers from the top of the key to start a 19-8 Howard run that all but wrapped up matters early. A Terry followup layup put Howard ahead, 31-18, with 5:19 left in the first half.
At that point, Howard tried to slow things down. The strategy didn't prove to be successful, as the Bears made their only rally of the long evening.
Consecutive buckets by Steve Jenkins, Byron Witherspoon, and Yarbarbough Roberts brought the Bears back to within five points, 33-26, with 2:10 left before intermission.
"We had done a good job defensively in the first half," said Morgan Coach James Guydon. "If we had been a little more patient offensively, we could have possibly been ahead."
Maybe. If Ratiff, who had been held to a single basket in the first 18 minutes, had not decided to join the fun.
The 6-foot-8 Ratiff hit two quick tapins, threw down a dunk, tossed in a free throw and snatched three rebounds on the defensive board to give the Bison a 38-28 lead with 40 seconds left.
Three points in the final 10 seconds by Roberts (17) gave MSU hope at intermission, 40-31.
It was as close as Morgan, which has now lost five of its last six games, would come the rest of the way.
Ratiff (23) opened the second half with a flurry of points -- a jumper from the corner, a running hook shot, a layup and a pair of free throws -- and Howard was rolling again, 48-33.
"When your two big people get in foul trouble, then it's a foot race," said Guydon. "Once you make a few mistakes against Howard, they can be devastating."
Every Bear mistake seemed to turn into a Howard basket. Terry, enjoying one of his finest games this year, hit five of his six tries from the field, four of five free throws and grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds in 27 minutes. His tenacious second-half board work was one reason Morgan couldn't catch up. h
The 6-11 center dropped in seven points while Spriggs and Ratiff added four each to send Howard out to a commanding, 67-43 lead with nine minutes to play.