top of page

CAU defeats Morehouse 70-62

“Our guys knew the implications of this game in the standings, and accepted the challenge."

Photo by Menra Mapfumo/The Atlanta Voice

WORDS: Donnell Suggs, Special from The Atlanta Voice

Webster’s dictionary describes a rival as “one of two or more striving to reach or obtain something that only one can possess.” No words are truer when describing Atlanta’s best in-town sports rivalry. The Clark Atlanta Panthers and Morehouse College Maroon Tigers have played one another in basketball for decades and on Saturday, Jan. 27 the latest chapter in a rivalry took place at L.S. Epps Gymnasium on the campus of Clark Atlanta University.

Clark Atlanta would win their seventh consecutive game, 70-62. The second chapter of this rivalry will take place at Forbes Arena on the campus of Morehouse College in Saturday, Feb. 17. Following the game, Panthers head coach Alfred Jordan said, “Our guys knew the implications of this game in the standings, and accepted the challenge. Hats off to [Morehouse] coach [Douglas] Whitlter and his team for making the game a battle.”

Morehouse College (12-6 overall, 9-2 conf.), currently at the top of the SIAC standings with a 9-2 conference record, came into the matchup on the heels of a 58-52 victory at Talladega College. Clark Atlanta (13-3 overall, 7-3 conf.) hadn’t lost a game in the new year, winning six straight to start the second half of the season following the holiday break.

L.S. Epps Gymnasium was packed to capacity an hour before tip-off Saturday afternoon. DJ Crizis (pronounced “Crisis”) was playing music that had the crowd on its feet throughout warm ups and player introductions.

The Clark Atlanta Might Marching Band provided the National Anthem and the game was underway. Both teams came out of the gate tight, missing the first seven shots of the game between them. Morehouse forwards Chukwuebuka Nwafor and Ahmand Decker scored the first two baskets of the game to give the Maroon Tigers a 5-0 lead. Clark Atlanta senior guard Elijah Stewart, a former Morehouse player who transferred to Clark along with his twin brother Andrew following their graduation from Morehouse, delivered the Panthers its first three points on a drive and subsequent free throw.

The Stewart twins are veterans of this rivalry, having played games on both home courts and during the conference tournaments. Before the game both players greeted several of their former teammates.

The Panthers took its first lead at 9-5 when Elijah Stewart (10 points) scored again on a drive followed by a jumper from fellow senior guard Jalen NeSmith, whose father Malloy “Future” NeSmith is a New York City playground legend. The younger NeSmith, a leftie, has tattoos on his left arm, “Son of a Legend” and “New York”. The hoops pedigrees didn’t stop there, with the son of former University of Michigan guard Demetrius Calip, Demetrius Calip II, a Morehouse junior guard that transferred in from a Los Angeles junior college program, giving Morehouse a 13-10 lead with a three-pointer. Calip’s father was a member of the 1989 Wolverines national title team alongside National Basketball Association (NBA) great Glen Rice.

There were six ties during the first half, with neither team leading by more than five points during the first 16 minutes of the game. The next four minutes would see Clark Atlanta lead by as much as 10 points. The score was 25-20 with 3:13 remaining in the first half following a jumper from sophomore forward and Bronx, New York native Shemani Fuller (15 points and six rebounds). A Western Michigan signee out of high school, Fuller’s relationship with Panthers head coach Alfred Jordan, both are native New Yorkers and alums of the Cardinal Hayes High School basketball program, helped him find a home in Atlanta after averaging less than 10 minutes a game as a freshman. Fuller contributed a three-pointer and a put back to help Clark earn the largest lead of the game going into halftime, but it was a twisting drive by NeSmith that brought the crowd to its feet and gave Clark Atlanta a 37-23 advantage.

The second half would begin with a 12-5 run by the Maroon Tigers to cut the Clark lead to just seven points. Morehouse junior Jaden Gray scored four of those points. A junior college transfer from powerhouse program Panola College, Gray (13 points and six rebounds) scored both baskets from midrange. Members of his family sat behind the scorers table and yelled every time he touched the ball.

Clark Atlanta’s veteran guards would help right the ship with baskets from Andrew Stewart (14 points, five rebounds, and three assists), a three-pointer, and Chris Martin. The latter having played on the Division I level at Presbyterian College before transferring to Clark Atlanta and choosing to sit out last season.

Clark Atlanta took its largest lead of the game, 60-42, at the 10-minute mark when NeSmith, Martin and Fuller scored on consecutive Panther possessions.

Morehouse was far from finished, with freshman guard Cedric Taylor III (team-high 17 points on 6-18 from the floor) scoring five straight points, including a deep three-pointer. Morehouse was behind by eight points with seven minutes to play when Fuller scored in the paint to put the home team ahead 65-55. Morehouse pulled back within eight points when junior Nate Lacewell (10 points) connected on a corner three-pointer with 3:40 remaining in the game. A transfer from Texas State University last year, Lacewell came into the game averaging just over four points per game. That shot gave him six points in the game. A pair of free throws from Gray and an offensive rebound and put back from Keshawn Pegues drew Morehouse within six points.

With a minute to play in the game Martin gave the Panthers a six-point advantage on a drive to the basket. A double-digit scorer on the season, Martin only had three points at halftime, but rebounded to score 13 points during the game.

NeSmith (nine points, four assists, and three rebounds) would go to the free throw line late in the game, making a pair that put the game out of reach.


Top Stories

bottom of page