No. 5 Delaware State Defeats No. 4 Howard 65-60 < All News
Thursday, March 12, 2015

NORFOLK, Va. --- On a night when the team’s two top players had off nights, Todd Hughes and Tyshawn Bell picked up the slack, combining for 37 points to lead Delaware State to a 65-60 win over Howard University in the quarterfinal round of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament at the Scope.

The Hornets (17-16), the Number 5 seed, advance to the semifinal round and will play the Number 1 seed, North Carolina Central on Friday at 6 pm.

The game was tightly and featured 10 ties and 15 lead changes.  Both teams had mini runs, but neither could establish any significant advantage.

Delaware State managed to take a 26-25 lead at the half on the scoring of Bell, who led all scorers with 11 points and Hughes, who added six.

The Bison (16-16), the Number 4 seed, got a team-high from sophomore James Daniel III, who scored all nine of his points on three-points baskets.

Both teams were effective in their strategies.  For the Hornets, the game plan was to contain Howard’s first team All-MEAC selection, James Carlton, who came into the game averaging over 16 points and had scored 27 in a close loss to Delaware State earlier in the season.

The plan was partially effective due to the strategy employed, but it was made somewhat easy when the 6-8 senior injured his back in the first half and struggled the rest of the way.  He averages 16 points per game, but he finished with only five, on 2 of 10 shooting from the field.

“JC’ s injury was big,” said Howard Coach Kevin Nickelberry.  “He averages 37 minutes. We just tried to get him back in the game several times, but he was not the same player.  Without him, we wanted to keep it close and have a chance at the end.  Delaware State was the better team tonight.”

The Bison’s plan was to take the Hornets’ two top players, guard Amere May and center Kendall Bell out of the game.  It proved to be effective as Gray, the MEAC Player and Defensive Player of the Year, managed only 4 points, 8 under his average and just 6 rebounds, less than half of his season average.  May, a first team all-conference selection and the MEAC’s leading scorer, did manage 12 points, but the Bison held him to 3 of 12 shooting.

 “This definitely was a team effort,” said Delaware State coach Keith Walker.  “I think the guys played through a lot of adversity.  Our starting point guard was, out so we had to make some adjustments rather quickly.  Under the circumstances, I thought the guys played well against a pretty good Howard team.”

After Daniel got his team to within striking distance at 59-56 with 27 seconds, Delaware State turned to its seniors Bell and May and they responded, converting four straight free throws to extend the lead to 63-59 with two ticks on the clock.  Daniel hit a three pointer but May’s breakaway dunk sealed the win.

“It came down to their seniors making plays when they had to down the stretch,” said Nickelberry.  “J-Byrd kept us in the game. We have to learn from this.”

Added Walker, “In games like this, senior leadership is crucial.  Our seniors bring a calm to the team.  It is always an advantage to have that senior leadership.”

Daniel, a second team All-MEAC pick, led all scorers with 25 while Damon Collins chipped in with 10 points and nine rebounds.

Hughes led his team with 19, Bell finished with 18 and May contributed 12.

The Hornets and the Eagles met in January and North Carolina survived 55-54.

“It should be an interesting game,” said Walker.  “We lost to them down there and missed some free throws down the stretch.  We know that the championship goes through North Carolina Central.  We are looking forward to the challenge.”

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