Senior guard Mike Tuitt scored 15 of his team-high 20 points in the second half, including a key three-point play with nine seconds remaining to lift Hampton to a 57-55 win over Howard in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) game at the HU Convocation Center in Hampton, Va.
The Bison (4-13 overall, 1-3 in the MEAC) appeared to be in good shape when senior guard Glenn Andrews scored all nine of his team’s points en route to a 55-52 lead with 31 ticks on the clock. Tuitt was fouled nine seconds later and converted two free throws to cut the deficit to 55-54 with 22 seconds remaining.
Howard’s freshman guard Simuel Frazier was fouled but he missed both free throws, setting the stage for Tuitt. The senior guard drove to his left and threw up an off-balance shot that banked off the glass. He was fouled on the play and he finished off the three-point play to give his team the lead with nine seconds left.
Howard used its final timeout to set up a game-winning basket. Frazier drove the length of the court, penetrated the Pirates defense and found freshman guard Brandon Ford all alone in the right corner. Ford got a good look but his shot hit the back of the rim and rolled off as the time expired.
“On the one hand, it was a very disappointing loss,” said Howard Coach Kevin Nickelberry. “But I was proud of the way we competed. We re-established how we want to play. We want to be known as a defensive team that is very physical. We were doing that early in the season, but since the Georgetown game, we have gotten away from that. I think that as we move forward, this game helps us reestablish our style. We do have to cut down on our fouls, though.”
Hampton scored nine of its last 11 points from the free throw line as three Bison players fouled out.
The first half saw both teams struggling to generate any offense. They both shot 22 percent and the Bison took a 22-21 lead to the locker room. Andrews led all scorers with 10 points.
The play improved in the second half and Howard looked as if could take control when it combined the scoring of Frazier and Andrews to take a 45-37 lead at the 8:47 mark. But the Pirates (6-9 overall, 2-1 in the MEAC) rallied on the scoring of Tuitt and senior guard Darrion Pellum, who combined for 23 of their team’s 36 second half points.
Andrews added six rebounds to his game-high 23 points and Frazier chipped in with 11, a team- and career-high eight rebounds and four assists.
“We started four freshmen and we are bringing upperclassmen off the bench,” said Nickelberry. “We are starting to come together and this effort may be a defining point for us.”
NEXT UP: The Bison travel to Norfolk, Va. to take on the Spartans of Norfolk State on Jan. 9 at 8 pm.