Once again, it was a close one at Burr Gymnasium. Once again, Howard University's basketball team broke down in the stretch.
Morgan State's James McCoy made two free throws with four seconds remaining last night to seal the Golden Bears' 65-61 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference victory that sent the Bison to their ninth straight home loss.
Steven Haynes scored 15 points and reserve Marcus Sheffield had 12 points and seven rebounds for Morgan State (4-15, 4-5), which started the season with 14 consecutive losses but has won four of its last five.
Tyrone Powell, who missed the previous five games with a broken jaw, returned to score 11 for the Bison (2-17, 1-7). Dating to last season, Howard has lost 23 of its last 25. The Bison have yet to win in seven home games for first-year coach Butch Beard.
Eleven of Howard's losses have been by seven points or less. Six of its seven MEAC losses have been by a combined 26 points. The Bison made only 39 percent of their shots last night.
"It is frustrating because this was a game you go in thinking you should win," said Beard, whose team rallied from a 30-18 deficit midway in the first half to take several narrow leads in the second half.
Howard's final lead came after Milan Brown's one-handed shot from the lane put the Bison ahead, 52-50, with 6:56 left. In the next 4:47, neither team managed to exert control, but the Golden Bears scored eight straight points to take a 58-52 lead with 2:09 left after Ural Hogans (13 points) made a 15-foot shot from the left baseline.
In the final 13 seconds, Howard twice pulled within two and then immediately fouled. Morgan State's Glenn Smith (12 points) made two free throws for a 63-59 lead and, after a basket by Howard's Skip Bynum, McCoy put it out of reach with his free throws.
"Morgan has been in a drought quite a while," said Coach Michael Holmes, who this season took over a team that has losing records in 10 of its last 11 seasons. "We still have a long way to go, but we are getting better. We are getting there."
Beard is not sure where his team is headed, but he at least knows the Bison play better on the road. Perhaps the only redeeming thing about last night was that it was Howard's final home game until Feb. 13.