PORTSMOUTH – Behind a game-high 18 points from Tyler Morgan, men's basketball took down Wilberforce 64-47 in its final non-conference game of the regular season. Morgan's scoring output also made him the program's all-time leading scorer with 1,690 points. The win was the Bears (15-9) second over the Bulldogs (9-17) this season.
Morgan's 18 points came as part of his 12th double-double of the season as he also pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds. Earlier this season, he also broke the career record for rebounding. In addition to his scoring, Jeremy Bennington added his first career double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds. Andrew Devlin also added 11 points and just missed a double-double with eight rebounds.
After starting out the game 5-5, the Bears took the early advantage after Nick Gouch went hard to rim twice, including a dunk on an alley-up that forced Wilberforce to call the early timeout with the score 11-5 with 15:48 in the opening half. A three-pointer from Bennington later in the opening half to put the Bears up by 10, 18-8, with just over eight minutes to play in the opening half.
SSU had one final surge in the opening half with just over three-and-a-half minutes to play. With the Bears leading by 12, 27-15, a 7-0 run, capped by a Morgan basket with under 10 seconds that gave him 10 points at the half. Those final two points gave the Bears a 34-15 lead at the half.
The Bears continued that run into the opening minutes of the second half as they scored 10 of the first 12 points over the first five-plus minutes coming out of the locker room. This opened up a game-high 25 point lead, 44-19, with 14:32 to play in the game.
The Bears still held a 23 point lead with 8:44 to play, 55-32. Wilberforce would cut that deficit down to 14 with 4:18 to play before the Bears got the lead back 20, 61-41, with 1:40 to play in the game. That lead would get to 21 points before Wilberforce scored the final four points of the contest to make the final 64-47.
Ian Nixson added seven points in the win while Gouch finished with six. Devon Carter finished a game-high four assists. Bennington and Nixson each finished with three assists. The Bears shot 40-percent from the field while holding Wilberforce to just over 24-percent from field. That mark included Wilberforce being limited to just 5-of-29 from the field in the opening half. The Bears also outrebounded the Bulldogs, 52-39.
Just five conference games remain on the regular season schedule. The Bears will be back on the road for the first of those two games will be this coming Thursday, February 14 at Cumberland. That following Saturday, SSU will take on the University of the Cumberlands.