The North Carolina Central Eagles shook off several double-digit deficits on Monday night and rallied to take over first place in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
Junior forward Karamo Jawara’s free throw with .9 of a second left in regulation sent the Eagles to a 53-52 victory over the Morgan State Bears at McDougald-McLendon Gymnasium in Durham, N.C.
Jawara missed the second free throw, and after a timeout with .7 of a second to play, Morgan State failed to get off a shot after the inbounds lob pass was batted away, giving NCCU its sixth consecutive victory.
Senior guard Jeremy Ingram led the Eagles with 20 points, the 20th time in his career that he has scored at least 20 points.
Morgan State built a 28-19 lead at halftime and the Bears stretched the margin to double digits twice in the second half before the Eagles rallied. Morgan State’s biggest lead was 13 before the Eagles mounted a comeback.
Ingram’s 3-pointer with 5:25 left gave NCCU its first second-half lead at 44-43. The Eagles maintained their lead until Morgan State sophomore guard Donte Pretlow tied the score at 52 with 38 seconds left in regulation.
Morgan State (6-12, 5-2) controlled the first half, building a big lead when NCCU went cold in the final eight minutes before halftime.
The Bears closed the first half on a 15-4 run. NCCU had only two field goals in the final eight minutes.
Senior guard Justin Black and freshman forward Kyle Thomas nailed back-to-back 3-pointers to break a 15-15 tie and start Morgan State’s strong finish in the first half.
Black’s three consecutive free throws in a 30-second span gave the Bears a 28-17 lead — their first double-digit lead — with 3:01 remaining until halftime.
Black led Morgan State with 17 points.
The Eagles’ first-half shooting woes were not limited to the final eight minutes. They converted just 8 of 28 from the field before the break, including 0 of 5 from three-point range.
The victory left the Eagles (14-5, 5-1) as the only team with one conference loss in the MEAC after Savannah State lost at home to Norfolk State. Six teams — including Morgan State — have two conference losses.
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