Bison Put Up Valiant Effort But Come Up Short
Chattanooga, TN—December 30—Howard University played one of its best games in recent history, but when it was all said and done, the inside-outside combination of Charles Anderson and Keddric Mays proved to be too much as the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga held on to a 68-63 win over the Bison in the championship of the Dr Pepper Classic at the McKenzie Arena before 3,898.
Playing with only nine players in uniform, the Bison put on a gritty performance that often frustrated the host Mocs (8-6), who had scored 90 points in the first round win over Maine. A combination of tough defense, hustle and superb discipline on offense allowed the undermanned visitors to stay close.
Junior forward Jason Trotter, who was named to the all-tournament team kept Howard (2-7) in the game early with his inside play on offense and on the boards. He finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
UTC threatened to pull away several times in the second half, but each time the resilient Bison refused to wilt. UTC, the defending Southern Conference tournament champions, parlayed the scoring of Anderson and Mays, who combined for 16 second half points, to reel off a 16-5 run that turned a 38-37 deficit to a 53-43 advantage mid way through the second half.
But Howard countered with a run of its own led by junior guard Will Gant, who dialed long distance and torched the Mocs for 14 of his game-high 17 points after intermission. His long three pointer from NBA range late in the game got the Bison to within 62-59. But UTC’s Ricky Hood scored 4 of his team’s last 6 points from the free throw line to help hold off the Bison.
Howard got a big boost from sophomore forward Jeron Smith, who scored 9 of his career-high 11 points in the second half. Smith got the starting nod and was playing in only his second game since getting an injury in the game against Navy.
Darryl Hudson finished with 10 points while Louis Ford added 8. Darek “Skip” Mitchell, the Bison’s second-leading scorer with over 11 per game, had an off shooting night and finished with 4 points.
UTC was led by Mays with 16, Anderson with 14 and Alphonso Pugh who chipped in with 10.
GAME NOTES: Gant joined Trotter on the all-tournament team along with Pugh and Mays, who was named MVP…the Bison continue to shoot well from the free throw line…for the game, they shot 85 percent for the second straight game…the Mocs held a 36-22 advantage in the paint and 21-13 in points-off-turnovers. UP NEXT
: Howard travels to Athens, GA to take on the Bulldogs of
Georgia on Monday at 2 p.m. That game has an interesting
sidelight: Georgia head coach Dennis Felton is a Howard alum,
having played for A.B. Williamson as is his assistant coach Mike
Jones, who played at Howard and served as an assistant coach under
former Bison coach Mike McLeese.