Myatt and Gant Deliver in Second Half To Lead Bison
Howard Wins Third Straight
New York, NY-December 2-Eugene Myatt scored 18 of his game-high 22 points in the second half and Will Gant added 13 of his 15 after intermission to help Howard University pull away to a 95-84 win over Hampton University in Big Apple Classic at Madison Square Garden before 6,609.
The Bison (4-3 overall, 1-0 in the MEAC), in winning their third straight, were able to parlay the scoring of Myatt, the all-around play of Darryl Hudson and some outstanding free throw shooting into a victory.
Myatt, a 6-6 sophomore forward and Gant, a 6-2 senior guard keyed a 12-2 run midway through the second half that all but decided the outcome. Myatt, who hit on 5 of his 9 shots, capped off the run with a high-flying, electrifying dunk following a steal that brought the crowd to its feet.
From there, Howard kept the Pirates (2-7 overall, 0-2 in the MEAC) at bay with its continued success at the free throw line, converting on 26 of 32 (83 percent) in the second stanza. Gantt (8 of 8) and Myatt (7 of 8) did much of the damage.
"This was a big win for the Howard University basketball program," said an elated Howard head coach Gil Jackson. "To come to Madison Square Garden and play on this stage and to get a victory against one of the quality athletic programs in our conference means a lot to this program."
Jackson continued, "We knew coming in that Hampton had played four games in seven days, that they had several key people out with injuries and that they had problems getting here, so the game plan was to keep the game up tempo in an effort to pressure them and wear them down. But even with all of that, they never quit. They are a proud program as they showed that despite the adversity."
Hampton, one of the pre-season favorites in the MEAC, was able to stay close early by shooting 54 percent (17 of 31) in the first half. Vincent Simpson accounted for 11 of his team's points as the Pirates went to the locker room tied at 41-all.
The two rivals battled to five ties and four lead changes until Howard freshman Curtis White knocked down a three pointer and followed with a soft jumper in the lane to give his team some breathing room at 58-52 with 13:48 on the clock.
The Pirates were able to keep the Bison within striking distance on the scoring of DeMario Mattox and Kevin Clark, who combined for 25 second half points, mostly from beyond the arc. But fatigue eventually set in and Hampton began to turn the ball over (13 second half turnovers), allowing Howard to pull away.
"We were exhausted," explained Hampton first year head coach Kevin Nickelberry. "We played four games in seven days and it's tough playing like that. Howard did a great job of handling our pressure and once they got up, they hit free throws and we were playing uphill from there."
Another key to the Bison success was the play of the bench, led by freshman Kandi Mukole (9 points, 7 rebounds), senior guard Darek Mitchell (8 points) and White (7 points).
"That is an area where we did not have last season," said Howard senior forward Hudson (18 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists). "Our young players are beginning to come around and we all understand our roles."
Hampton was led by Mattox with 19, Mike Freeman with 15 and Simpson with 14.
NEXT UP: Hampton gets some much-needed rest as it does not play again until December 16 when it travels to Charlottesville, VA to take on the University of Virginia. Ironically, the Bison are in a similar situation to the Pirates as they will take on Navy on Monday at 7 pm in Annapolis, MD and then return home on Wednesday for a 7 pm contest against American University. They will close out the four-game-in-seven-day marathon next Saturday against the Hawks of Maryland Eastern Shore in Princess Anne, MD at 12 noon in a televised game on ESPNU.