The Howard Bison men’s basketball team put together a multiple-game winning streak for the first time this season after edging Delaware State University, 70-67, on Jan. 31 at Burr Gymnasium in Washington, D.C.

It was one of Howard’s few wins, yet the most impressive this year as all five Bison starters scored double-digits in points to advance to a second straight victory.

Howard sophomore forward Mike Phillips led the starters with 19 points, scoring mostly in the paint close to the basket. Bison freshman center Alphonso Leary also did damage in the paint, scoring 12 points with eight rebounds.

“The game plan was to get the ball inside and take advantage of the mismatches,” explained Howard first year head coach Kevin Nickelberry. “Once we established something inside, Mike and Alphonso did a good job of kicking the ball out to the shooters.”

Howard shot well from the outside as sophomore guard Anton Dickerson scored 14 points, while sophomore forward Darian Collins also scored 14 along with a career-high five assists. Senior guard Kyle Riley added 11 points and a career-high seven assists.

“I was very proud of the way we played tonight,” Nickelberry said.  “We hung in there and toughed out a win.  Kyle was like a warrior for us.  He was a big part of our success.  He knows he has to handle the ball and keep the team under control.”

Riley was huge on Jan. 29 when he scored 14 of his season-high 22 points in a 77-73 win over University of Maryland-Eastern Shore to snap a 9-game losing streak for Howard. The victory over UMES was also the Bison’s first Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) win of the season.

Coach Nickelberry credits the wins to the energy the players gain from the home crowd.

“We fed off the energy of the crowd,” he said after the game. “They gave us a lot of energy.  That is important since we are a young team and we lack depth.  It was definitely a factor tonight.”

Howard (4-17, 2-7 MEAC) will play its next two games at home, including a matchup with North Carolina Central on Feb. 5.

Perry Green

AFRO Sports Editor