By Mark F. Gray, AFRO Staff Writer, [email protected]
Bowie State University
Perhaps Bowie State got the wake up call they needed from their fiercest CIAA rivals after an extended win streak. Just when it appeared the Bulldogs had turned the corner and become a legitimate championship contender one year ahead of schedule, the Blue Bloods came into their house and took a victory back to Richmond.
The Bulldogs – who led by as many as nine points late in the second half – went cold down the stretch as Virginia Union beat the Bulldogs 75-72 in a key CIAA Northern Division clash. The loss snapped Bowie State’s six-game winning streak and was a wake up call for a youthful team that may have been on the verge of falling to the intoxication of their success.
“Union was just the tougher team tonight” said Bowie State Head Coach Darrell Brooks afterwards. “They beat us up on the glass, we didn’t do a good enough job defending (Terrell) Leach or (Will) Jenkins and that tells the story of the game.”
The Panthers mauled the Bulldogs in the paint outscoring them 32-14 and shut them out in transition. Junior Cameron Hayes led Bowie St. with 26 points but only scored five in the second half and fellow junior Juwan Smith added 17 off the bench in the loss.
However, Bowie St. rebounded quickly at Chowan as redshirt junior David Belle led four players scoring in double figures with 20 points when they beat the Hawks 68-57. Hayes and Jamison finished with 16 and 12 points respectively while Belle and Jamison also tied for game-high rebounds finishing with nine each. Sophomore Justin Route scored a career-high 11 points in the victory. which pulled the Bulldogs back into a tie for first place in the CIAA north.
Despite joining his teammate R.J. Cole as the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference’s preseason all-conference backcourt, Howard’s Charles Williams hasn’t taken a backseat this season. The junior sharpshooter, who is the other half of the Bison backcourt averaging 25 points in two victories and was named MEAC Player of the Week.
Williams helped Howard recover from their heartbreaking overtime loss to Morgan State and lit Delaware St. up with 29 points to lead them to an 80-74 victory over the Delaware State Hornets in a Saturday matinee at Burr Gymnasium.
On a day where Howard players honored members of their families who had been affected by cancer, Williams seemed to get a lift from seeing his mother to motivate him. He scored 12 of their first 17 points to jumpstart their offense while the Bison took control of the game. Williams is an aggressive player who sometimes is plays on the edge but he was able to harness the emotions of the moment and lead them to the win.
“We needed a start like that, especially from [Charles] Williams,” said Howard coach Kevin Nickelberry afterwards. “He did not know his mother was coming today. Playing in front of his mother for the first time in a while created some emotions for him. That got C.J. ready, which is something we needed.”
Williams kept things going in their nationally televised contest versus Maryland-Eastern Shore. After a slow start he scored a game high 21 points and helped lead the Bison to a 72-57 win over the Hawks. Howard will enter next weekend’s contest versus conference leader Norfolk State above .500 in MEAC play for the first time this year.
For a team that will follow the lead of their guards this year, Howard’s balance will be a key if they plan on playing deep into March’s MEAC Tournament.