|Howard Toughs Out Win Over North Carolina A&T||< All News|
|Tuesday, March 11, 2014|
NORFOLK, Va. -- -James Byrd was held to his lowest point total of the season, but he came up with two of the biggest plays of the game to help Howard defeat North Carolina A&T, 53-47 in the opening round of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Tournament at the Norfolk Scope.
The Bison (8-24), the Number 8 seed, advance to the quarterfinal round against North Carolina Central, the Number 1 seed at 6 pm on Wednesday.
Daniel, the 2013-14 MEAC Rookie of the Year and leading scorer in the conference with almost 22 points per game, struggled through most of the game, missing eight of his first nine shots. The Aggies (9-23), the Number 9 seed, did a good job of not giving the explosive guard good looks at the basket. Because the Bison rely so heavily on Daniel for points, points were hard to come by.
“We were focusing on Daniel and all their shooters,” said North Carolina A&T head coach Cy Alexander. “I thought we did a good job in that respect.”
Howard shot 25 percent (12 of 48) for the game.
Howard turned to Solomon Mangham for scoring and the 6-7 freshman forward, who was coming off a career-high 22 points in the season-ending loss to Morgan State, gave them a much needed boost with 11 first half points. No other Bison reached double figures.
North Carolina A&T turned to the team’s co-leading scorer, Lamont Middleton and he delivered with 12 first half points. But the Bison held a 24-21 lead at the end of the half.
The game was like a heavyweight boxing match and featured cold shooting, missed free throws and botched opportunities. During one 12-minute stretch, there was only one field goal for each team. There were five ties and nine lead changes until the Bison opened the game’s biggest lead, 35-29 at the 10:47 mark.
“It was a gritty, ugly game,” assessed Howard head coach Kevin Nickelberry. “That’s the way we like it; we don’t like it pretty. We knew that it was going to be physical so I told our big guys that we have 10 fouls so use them.”
In a game like this, some unexpected players made contributions. For the Aggies, Bryan Akinkugbe scored all eight of his points in the second half while Howard reserve freshman guard Kofi Andoh aided the Bison cause with five points in nine minutes.
“In a defensive struggle like this, you have to create offense with defense,” said Nickelberry. “This was a team effort and we needed everyone to contribute. Kofi, Oliver (Ellison), Solo and Prince were all able to contribute by either scoring, rebounding, blocking shots or getting their hands on balls and causing deflections.”