Calvin Thompson and Tre Leecame off the bench to combine for 27 points to help Howard University edge Florida A&M University, 71-69 in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference men’s game at Burr Gymnasium.
The Bison (7-18, 4-8 in the MEAC) rallied from a 10-point deficit on the scoring of Thompson, a
red-shirt junior guard and sophomore guard/forward Lee, who teamed for 8 of Howard’s last 10 points down the stretch.
Thompson a perfect 4 for 4 and Lee 5 of 6 on free throws in the second half and the Bison
needed all of them.
“We put Thompson and Lee in to calm us down at that point,” explained Howard head coach
Nickelberry. “Being an upperclassman, Calvin has the experience. He took some pressure off (freshman) Simuel Frazier.”
The Bison converted on 20 of 24 from the charity stripe for 83 percent. It was the second
straight win for Howard that came down to clutch free throw shooting.
“That’s the difference, the free throws,” said Nickelberry. “It’s the difference between wins and losses in these two past games. Our guys are putting themselves in position to make them. It was a good win.”
The Bison took control early, shooting 55 percent (16 of 29) from the field in the first 20
minutes. Freshman Prince Okoroh led all scorers with 10 points on 5 of 8 shooting from the floor as Howard led, 34-28 at the half.
The Rattlers (7-18, 5-6 in the MEAC) came out of the locker room smoking. Senior forward Amin Stevens tallied 10 points during a 14-0 run that gave the visitors their biggest lead at 44-34 at the 16:21 mark.
Following a Howard timeout, the Bison settled down as Thompson, Alphonso Leary, Lee and
Frazier combined to fuel a 17-7 run that knotted the score at 51-all at the 8:13 mark.
From there, it turned into a back-and-forth affair until Thompson, Frazier and Ellison teamed to give Howard a 62-54 advantage. But the Rattlers, or I should say Amin Stevens, refused to go away. Stevens, who led all scorers with 24 points, 22 in the second stanza, got Florida A&M within a point at 66-65 with 37 ticks on the clock.
But Thompson and Lee made sure that the Rattlers would get no closer as they hit free throws to preserve the win.
The Bison, who started five freshmen for the fifth straight game, won the statistical battle in the paint (40-34) and most importantly, the bench scoring, where they held a 36-21 advantage.
“We have gotten to what we feel is a good situation,” said Nickelberry, who has led the team to more wins than last season. “The freshmen play with so much energy and then we bring in out upperclassmen and they make a solid contribution. We are now seeming to really enjoy the game.”
Stevens led all scorers with 26, all but two in the second half. In addition to Thompson and Lee’s contribution, the Bison got 10 points from freshman guard Okoroh, 9 from sophomore Leary off the bench, 9 from freshman Oliver Ellison and 8 points and 6 assists from Frazier.
The Bison played without the services of senior guard and team-leading scorer, Glenn Andrews, who is nursing a sore knee and junior forward Mike Phillips, the team’s leading rebounder and third leading scorer, who suffered a concussion two games ago.
NEXT UP: Howard hosts Bethune-Cookman on Monday at 7:30 pm at Burr Gymnasium.
Courtesy of HU Bison