RALEIGH, N.C.—March 8
---Joe Dickens scored a team-high 13 points and Darren Shine
scored 10 of his 12 in the second half to help Delaware State
defeat Howard, 59-47 in the quarterfinals of the Mid-Eastern
Athletic Conference tournament at the RBC Center. The Number
1 seed Hornets (19-12) will take on the winner of the Florida
A&M-South Carolina State match-up on Friday at 6 p.m. in the
The game featured Delaware State, the regular season and defending MEAC tournament champ, against the upstart Bison (7-22), who came in as one of the hottest teams in the conference, having won five of their last six, including a 62-52 victory over North Carolina A&T in the first round.
Howard stayed close throughout most of the game, due to some strong defense and scoring from different sources, most notably Will Gant, who led his team with 8 of his team-high 13 points in the first half.
The Hornets’ big guns of MEAC Player of the Year, Jahsha Bluntt and Shine, were held in check and combined for only four points. So it was Joe Dickens, who proved to be the wild card as he led all scorers with 9 points.
“Joe has been able to be a key player for us this season,” said Greg Jackson, who was named MEAC Coach of the Year by his peers. “He was able to keep us going in the first half until some other players stepped up.” Dickens finished with 13 points and 6 rebounds.
Bluntt and Worley began to assert themselves early in the second half, but the Bison refused to go away. Three times, the Hornets teetered on a double digit lead, but each time Jason Trotter (10 points, 8 in the second half) and Darek Mitchell (10 points, all in the second half) came up with key baskets to remain within striking distance.
“We knew that they would be a tough challenge for us,” said Howard first-year head coach Gil Jackson. “I was proud of the way the kids played. They never quit and we were hoping that we could keep it close longer. But down the stretch, they showed why they are champions.”
The Bison got to within 6 at 51-45. Then the poise and experience of the Hornets took over. Led by Shine, Bluntt and Worley (11 points off the bench), Delaware State closed out with an 8-2 run that sealed the deal.
“This is definitely a different Howard team than the one we faced during the regular season,” admitted Greg Jackson. “They kept us off balance for a large portion of the game. “But we made some adjustments and we were able to get a little better execution on offense.”
Added Gil Jackson, “A game like this is a good experience and starting point for us. Delaware State has been to the NCAAs and they want to go back. It is an unbelievable atmosphere and experience. That’s what we at Howard are trying to get to.”
GAME NOTES: The Hornets shot 58 percent (10 of 17) from the field in the second half and were 11 of 14 from the free throw line…DSU had 14 assists on 18 baskets…Howard senior point guard Louis Ford closed out his career as the all-time leader in steals and among the top 3 in assists.