Hampton University used its decided edge in experience to pull away to a 71-53 win over Howard University’s men’s basketball team in the Big Apple Classic at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 4.

The Pirates (4-4 overall, 1-1 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference), who are the defending MEAC tournament champions, start four seniors and have reserves who are game tested and it showed against the young Bison, who have nine new players on the roster, including seven freshmen.

After Howard (2-5 overall, 0-1 MEAC) opened the second half with a 17-5 run to erase a 13-point halftime deficit and get to within one at 41-40, the Pirates calmly responded with a run of their own to take a 54-40 lead midway through the second half. The run was led by seniors Darrion Pellum and Christopher Tolson, who combined for 17 second half points.

“It was a game of runs and they happened to make more runs than we did,” said Howard second year head coach Kevin Nickelberry. “We started five freshmen in the second half and they helped us get back into the game with their energy. But their coaching staff did a good job of making some adjustments after that by going small and it gave us some problems matching up with them.”

With Pellum and Tolson spearheading the offense, senior center Danny Agbelese anchoring the defense (11 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocked shots) and senior guard Mike Truit (9 points, 7 assists) running the offense, the Pirates were able to frustrate the young Bison, who went almost six minutes without scoring in the second half.
“They were coming off a home loss to Savannah State and they were a lot hungrier than we were,” said Nickelberry. “Hopefully we can learn from this.”

The Bison were led by freshman guard Simuel Frazier (12 points) and junior forward Mike Phillips, who tallied all of his 12 points in the second half. Pellum (13 points, 10 rebounds) and Agbelese (10 points, 11 rebounds) both had double doubles while Tolson led all scorers with 15.

Howard will now take on a huge challenge of facing national powerhouse Georgetown University on Dec. 10 at the Verizon Center.


Ed Hill Jr.

Special to the AFRO