By Courtney Ott, Sports Editor and D’Mari Dreher-Smith, Contributing Writer
Head coach Laura Harper made her first appearance behind the sidelines for the 2023-24 season after being on administrative leave since May 19, 2023. Harper was able to start in the win column.
“Best feeling I’ve ever felt coaching, if I can be completely honest. These are my children. I feel that way, and I tell them all the time,” said Harper. “I have so much passion to coach them, and I can’t even explain the joy in my heart, I probably won’t sleep tonight if I can be completely honest. It’s worth it, and I’m very happy.”
Last season, Morgan State traveled to TU Arena and defeated the Tigers 76-48 for the Charm City Hoops Classic. Tonight, Towson was able to claim back their homecourt victory against the Bears.
“We definitely remembered what that 30-point loss meant. We take it very personally just being here in Baltimore, so I think that our players had enough motivation to really be there and be prepared,” said Harper. “We had a game plan.”
Both teams started off slow on the offensive front in the first quarter. Towson didn’t score their first field goal until there were just under five minutes left. Then, Morgan State put up their first points at the 3:54 mark with a driving layup from guard Gabrielle Johnson. The Tigers were able to pick up the pace with under three minutes to go, leading 14-2.
The slow start from Towson was a result of the lack of communication between players on the court. It took a while for the Tigers to get on the same page and start working together to make field goals. But when they did, they couldn’t be stopped. When guard Kylie Kornegay-Lucas was questioned about the teams’ communication issues, she stated what she thought they could still improve on.
“Staying consistent, huddling more, communicating and getting on the same page,” responded Kornegay-Lucas.
On the defensive side, the Tigers made it extremely difficult for Morgan State to make a field goal. Finishing out the first quarter with 20 points to Morgan’s eight.
At halftime, Towson still held the lead, 45-25. The Tigers were shooting 86% from the free throw line, but from the field, they held 48%, going 16/33 and 1/7 behind the arc. Morgan State’s offensive end also struggled, shooting 31% from the field.
Kornegay-Lucas led Towson in points with 15, followed closely behind by guard Aminata Diakite with 13. The Tigers were outrebounding the Bears 21-17.
“I started the game missing a few shots,” said Kornegay-Lucas, “But my coaches and my teammates told me to keep my head up, which I did. I just kept shooting.”
After halftime, the Tigers hit the court with an even more dominant defensive game, with two blocks and eight steals. At the end of the third quarter, Diakite sank a buzzer-beater layup, sending her team into the fourth quarter with offensive momentum.
“My team is going to score in the paint. We’re going to run, we’re going to rebound, and that’s something they know are our core values, so it’s definitely been an emphasis and will continue to be an emphasis,” stated Harper.
The Tigers were able to hold onto their lead, going into the fourth quarter with a 63-40 lead, never quite losing their physicality and drive. While Morgan State did manage to put up a 29-point fourth quarter, the Tigers still were able to secure the 80-69 win.
Towson’s next game is on the road against Liberty on Dec. 4 at 7 p.m.