The Howard Bison basketball team opened its season with an impressive 54-52 win over tough non-conference opponent Bowling Green, giving new head coach Kevin Nickelberry his first career victory at Howard.
The win didn’t come easy, but it was just the type of fight Nickelberry expected from his new group of players.
“I am really proud of how this team hung together and fought their way to this win,” Nickelberry said following the game last weekend. “We made some mistakes, we missed some free throws but in the end, we hung together and toughed out a win.”
Unfortunately for the Bison, they couldn’t follow the opener with another win as they were overpowered by an even tougher non-conference opponent, falling 76-40 to the No. 14 ranked Purdue Boilermakers on Nov. 14.
Howard tried to keep the score close early in the game, but Purdue’s depth in talent eventually overwhelmed the Bison and the Boilermakers closed out the game on a 41-7 scoring run.
“I was proud of the team the way we battled in the first 10 minutes,” Nickelberry said. “To play against a great team like Purdue in that environment was encouraging. But ultimately, their depth and our fatigue was too much to overcome.”
It also didn’t help that Howard lost one of its best players, Calvin Thompson, to an injury during the game. The junior guard badly injured his knee, which Purdue’s medical staff diagnosed as a possible torn ACL. Thompson’s presence will definitely be missed. He was the team’s captain and was recently named to the All Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference preseason team.
“You just don’t replace a Calvin Thompson,” proclaimed Nickelberry, who saw his top recruit, 6-feet, 9-inch freshman center Theodore Boyomo, go down with a torn ACL two weeks ago. “To have him go down like this…..We will know for certain the prognosis when our team physician, Dr. Terry Thompson, takes a look at it.”
Regardless of injuries, the Bison will need to re-group quickly for their next game against the Delaware University Blue Hens on Nov. 19.
“We are now down to seven scholarship players and we are playing with two walk-ons,” Nickelberry explained. “We are going to have to continue to play tough defense and scrap. And now is the time for the players…to step up.”