TAMPA, Fl. — For the second game in a row, the Morgan State Bears were without leading scorer Tiwian Kendley as they concluded their mini two-game road trip to open the 2017-18 season.
This time, the Bears came out on top.
Morgan State fell on the road to the Binghamton Bearcats on Friday night, 76-59. Phillip Carr and Stanley Davis led the way in the loss, both scoring in double-figures.
On Monday night, the Bears were in Tampa, Florida for a date with the South Florida Bulls. Once again, they were without Kendley in the lineup. However, they didn’t need him this time around, as a fresh face stepped up and led the Bears to their first win of the season.
Freshman guard LaPri McCray-Pace scored a game-high 15 points for the Bears, leading Morgan State to their first win of the season with a 63-53 decision over South Florida.
McCray-Pace went 4-for-8 from the field on the night, and 3-for-4 from three point range. He was one of three Bears to score in double figures, as Phillip Carr and Martez Cameron chipped in with 10 points apiece in the win.
Terrence Samuel led the way for the Bulls, scoring 13 points and pulling down seven rebounds. Tulio Da Silva chipped in with 11 points of his own in the loss.
It was a back-and-forth start to the game, with both teams trading baskets. South Florida would eventually take a five point lead, at 22-17, on a layup from Mark Martin with just over eight minutes left in the half.
Morgan State wouldn’t let them get any further ahead, and they closed the half on a 15-4 run to take a six-point lead of their own into the break, at 32-26.
After the Bulls scored the first five points of the second half to cut the deficit down to a single point, the Bears went on a 13-0 run, capped off with a layup from Carr, to stretch their lead to 45-31 with 14:21 to play in the game.
The Bulls managed to trim the deficit to six points on a three-point play from Samuel with just over three minutes to play in the game, but that was as close as they would get.
Morgan State pushed their lead back to double-figures, and came away with the 63-53 victory over South Florida for their first win of 2017-18.
With the win, Morgan State (1-1) returns home on a high note. They host Lincoln PA on Thursday in their 2017-18 home opener.
On the contrary, the loss for South Florida (1-1) sends them off on a two-game road swing on a sour note. The Bulls will look to get back on track when they visit the Stetson Hatters on Wednesday.
– T. Bennett