Washington, DC-Randy Hampton scored 8 of his team-high 15 points in the second half but it was Curtis White who made two key plays down the stretch that helped Howard edge Bethune-Cookman, 54-53 in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference men's game at Burr Gymnasium. It was the first conference win of the season for the Bison and it snapped an eight-game losing streak.
In a game that was played at a slow pace by the undermanned Wildcats, who played with only 8 players in uniform, the Bison had problems early. The tempo favored the visitors as they took a 27-21 lead at halftime. B-CU's John Holmes led the way with 16 of his team's points.
"They (Bethune-Cookman) used this offense against us last year," said Howard head Coach Gil Jackson. "You just have to adjust. The key is to be patient, protect the ball and make shots."
Howard (4-12 overall, 1-2 in the MEAC) came out in the second half and slowly worked its way into the lead with a 19-5 run over the first 11 minutes of the second half to take a 40-32 advantage. Hampton, reserve forward Kandi Mukole, who scored all 5 of his points after intermission and Paul Kirkpatrick helped fuel the rally.
But the undersized Wildcats (6-10 overall, 1-2 in the MEAC) put together a rally of their own, reeling off a 15-6 run to briefly take a 47-46 lead on a Jimmy Hudson three-point basket.
Hampton then canned two free throws at the other end to give the lead back to the Bison with 2:06 left on the clock. Eugene Myatt made a big block on defense and Curtis White, who earlier hit a key basket with the shot clock winding down, made a nice feed to Mukole for a basket to extend the lead to 50-47 with 57 seconds remaining. Hampton added two free more insurance free throws that proved to be the difference as Hudson nailed a three-pointer at the buzzer to close out the scoring.
"Randy played focused tonight," said Jackson of Hampton, who was playing just his second game since December 1 when he suffered a concussion. "He's still gutsy and needs to stay out of foul trouble. He definitely gives us a boost."
He continued, "As for Curtis, he is starting to get healthy again. He's a coach on the floor. We needed him to make those kind of plays for us tonight."
Holmes led all scorers with 21 points while Dewayne Pettus and Hudson added 12 and 11, respectively.
NEXT UP: Bethune-Cookman travels to Baltimore, MD to play Coppin State on Saturday, January 19 at 4 pm while the Bison take on the Rams of Winston-Salem State on January 19 at 4 pm.