By Mark F. Gray
AFRO Staff Writer
Through the first half of their Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference schedule, the Howard Bison men’s basketball team has mastered the art of beating themselves. It’s something that continues to frustrate head coach Kenney Blakeney, but, to his credit, the team is still fighting despite their lack of success.
The proof Blakeney’s team hasn’t quit was how they went about erasing a 31-19 deficit with 9:42 remaining in the first half.
However, Howard couldn’t finish their comeback and lost another heartbreaker at home to Florida A&M. At the time they fell to 2-19 overall and 0-6 in the MEAC heading into their game with Coppin State. At the time of their game with the Eagles, the Bison were the only team in the conference without a victory against one of their annual opponents.
Despite staying in the fight, Howard lost to FAMU 83-85, making their record 0-6 in the MEAC and 2-19 overall. (Courtesy Photo)
C.J. Williams, Nate Garvey, Khalil Robinson and Wayne Bristol Jr. combined for 45 second-half-points, which gave them a chance to beat the Rattlers, who are ineligible to the conference championship and postseason play.
Robinson, who is doing a solid job as an extension of his coach in Howard’s new offense, added nine assists and three steals. Zion Cousins tied the game-high with eight rebounds. The Bison went to a 2-for-1 strategy in the waning minutes and almost paid off with six seconds left down 85-83, after the Rattlers missed both of their free-throw attempts, but they could not secure the rebound giving FAMU another opportunity to secure the victory.
Howard shot .526 percent (30-of-57) from the floor which was their second best performance of the season. The Bison also were a perfect 13-of-13 from the free throw line, which put them in position to win.
However, FAMU controlled the offensive board outscoring Howard 20-2 in second-chance points. The Rattlers used an 11-7 run to even the score at 60 with 9:40 remaining. FAMU took the lead on the next free throw and did not give up the lead despite Howard’s tying the game at 63. FAMU held off the Bison going 24-20 the rest of the way.
Nonetheless, they still had a chance to win or force overtime. Howard pulled to within two points twice late in the game. Blakeney tried to extend the game using playing for two shots to either tie the game or win it in regulation inside the game’s final minute. The strategy worked as FAMU missed two free throws, but as their trend for the season has been, the Bison couldn’t secure that critical rebound when they needed it the most.
Williams continues to establish himself as a first ballot MEAC Hall of Famer and prove why his jersey number will probably be retired to hang in the rafters of Burr Gymnasium when his career comes to an end in March. Williams, who hasn’t been as consistent a perimeter scorer this season as he has in the past, led Howard with 21 points. This was his ninth game of the season with at least 20 points and the 50th time since his Bison career.