Junior guard Landon Clement scored 23 of 26 points in the second half, including a clutch three-pointer with the shot clock winding down, and senior guard C.J. Wilkerson added 16 of his 20 points after intermission to lead North Carolina Central to an emotional 79-70 win over Howard in a non-conference men’s game on Feb. 5 at Burr Gymnasium in Washington, D.C.

The loss snapped a two-game win streak for Howard (4-19) in a game which was competitive from start to finish.

Howard was able to get the upper hand in the first half as sophomore forward Dadrian Collins (10 points), sophomore guard Anton Dickerson (nine points) and senior guard Kyle Riley (eight points) combined to help Howard take a 34-28 lead to the locker room. 

North Carolina Central (11-10) got 15 points from junior forward Nick Chasten but Clement and Wilkerson, their two big weapons on offense, managed only seven points between them early in the game.

Howard played some tough defense and forced N.C. Central to shoot tough shots throughout the game. Unfortunately, Central was able to make tough shots late in the game, including a three-point shot made by Clement which gave N.C. Central a 70-66 lead with just 31 seconds left. Clement led all scorers with 26 points, while Chasten scored 20.

“ just hit a tough shot,” Howard first year head coach Kevin Nickelberry said.  “We knew he could shoot.  He wasn’t hitting them earlier in the game, but down the stretch he just took over the game.  Big time basketball players make big plays and he just made one.”

Howard also continued to struggle because of their lack of depth on the bench, as North Carolina simply had more bodies to play.

“Their depth took over,” said Nickelberry. “We played five guys the whole second half.  But I like the fact that despite that, we didn’t give up.  We just told our guys to keep fighting, but unfortunately tonight it just wasn’t enough.”

NEXT UP:  Howard returns to conference action as it concludes a four-game home stand against the Bulldogs of South Carolina State on Feb. 7 at Burr Gymnasium.

 

Ed Hill Jr.

Special to the AFRO