Playing their first game in two weeks, the Howard Bison snapped an eight-game losing streak with a 69-65 win over Loyola at Burr Gymnasium on Dec. 22.

Sophomore forward Mike Phillips led all scorers with 19 points, and his two free throws with less than nine seconds left helped seal the game as Howard came from behind late in the contest. Howard trailed 62-56 with 3:12 left in the fourth quarter, but went on a 9-2 run to take the lead with 47 seconds remaining.

After being hit by the injury bug early in the season, Howard welcomed the return of senior guard Kyle Riley, who sparked the team with nine points in the first half. Riley had missed the previous seven games with an ankle injury but reclaimed his familiar starting point guard position, to the delight of Howard coach Kevin Nickelberry.

“Without question, Kyle improves our talent level,” Nickelberry told howard-bison.com.  “He is such a calming influence out there and that is what we have been missing.  He is a veteran player on the floor for us and you could see the difference tonight.”

Riley kept the team in it early, but it was Phillips who rescued them late, as Howard fought back trailing 45-31 in the second half to tie it at 54 with 6:47 left in the game. Phillips scored 13 points in the second half as Loyola (4-7) couldn’t find an answer for him or sophomore guard Anton Dickerson, who totaled 15 points, including 11 in the second half.

“We began to call more plays for Mike in the second half,” said Nickelberry.  “We talked about execution and getting to the basket and he responded Anton did a great job of dribble drive and getting to the foul line and that was one of the key to our success in the second half.” 

Howard (2-8) won its first game since a home-opening 54-52 win over Bowling Green on Nov. 12.

Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO