Hornet men drop MEAC opener to Morgan 81-68

DSU’s Trey Gross battles on a layup against Morgan State during Saturday’s MEAC home game. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

DOVER — Delaware State’s conference opener went the way most of its nonconference games did.

Signs of optimism early, followed by struggles late.

The Hornets dropped their first Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference men’s basketball contest, 81-68 to Morgan State on Saturday afternoon at Memorial Hall. Delaware State fell to 1-14 overall and has lost seven in a row.

Delaware State was tied 34-34 at halftime but shot only 27.3 percent from the floor in the second half. Morgan State out-scored the Hornets 47-34 after halftime.

“Halftime, it was even,” said second-year DSU coach Eric Skeeters. “We start the second half and they make a run and get separation. We got to close that gap. We’ve got to go on our run. We did for a minute but we didn’t get some bounces and shots didn’t fall.”

The Hornets led 42-41 with 17:05 left in the game before the Bears responded with a 14-4 run.

The Hornets’ John Crosby tries to go past Morgan State’s Stanley Davis Jr. on a layup in the first half.

Delaware State went scoreless from the 16:01 mark to the to the 11:51 mark in the second half. The Hornets also faced a six-minute drought where they did not make a field goal as the Hornets only scored two free throws by Omari Peek-Green and the Bears extended their lead from 46-44 to 55-46.

Morgan State meanwhile shot 44.8 percent from the floor in the second half and the Hornets turned the ball over 17 times in the game.
“When shots aren’t falling you got to rely on your defense,” Skeeters said. “And you got to value the ball, you can’t give it to the other team.”

The closest Delaware State got in the final minutes was when John Crosby made a pair of free throws with 3:58 left to draw within 62-57.

Morgan State put the game out of reach on a three-pointer by Lagio Grantsaan with 2:25 remaining which pushed the Bears’ lead back to double-digits. The Bears also converted 10-of-12 free throw attempts in the final 1:40.

Morgan State was led by three different players who all scored 15 points — Sherwyn Devonish-Prince, Isaiah Burke and David Syfax.

DSU’s Pinky Wiley drives past Morgan State’s Troy Baxter in the first half on Saturday.

Crosby paced the Hornets with a game-high 22 points. Fahim Jenneto, making his return from an eye injury, netted 13 points.

Jenneto had missed the last 32 games, dating back to last season with various injuries.

“We got a lift from him,” Skeeters said. “We’re counting on him getting up to speed.”

Ameer Bennett also finished in double figures for the Hornets with 10 points. Bennett led DSU in rebounds with eight.

The Hornets went 8-of-29 from three for the game, including a 4-of-18 mark in the second half. Delaware State hit 9-of-33 field goal attempts in the second half after going 12-of-27 (44.4 percent) in the first.

Skeeters pointed to the team’s play in the first half as a sign of progress.

“It’s coming together,” Skeeters said. “Sure the record isn’t there yet but we’re getting better. We’ve got to find a way to close it out.”

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com