Howard Parlays Myatts Scoring and Team Defense Into Win
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Eugene Myatt scored a game-high 18 points and Kyle Riley and Paul Kirkpatrick each added 12 to help Howard defeat Delaware State, 59-43 in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference men's game at Burr Gymnasium. The win was the fourth straight for the streaking Bison (7-16 overall, 5-5 in the MEAC).
Howard jumped out to an early 21-9 lead and was rarely challenged in posting its largest margin of victory on the season. Myatt, who was named the MEAC Player of the Week before the game, set the tone by tallying 13 of his team's points in the first 20 minutes as the Bison led, 39-20 at the half.
"We want to build our program on the defensive end of the floor, especially with toughness and smarts and that's the part we can control," said Howard Coach Gil Jackson.
With Myatt, Kirkpatrick (eight points) and Riley (seven points) providing the offensive punch, the Bison's team defense proved to be equally effective, limiting the Hornets to 26 percent shooting (8-for-30) from the field.
"I just wanted to establish a presence inside for us," said Howard 6-9 junior center Kirkpatrick, who was a perfect 6-for-6 from the field while also grabbing six rebounds. "I think they backed down a little bit after that first dunk."
Added Coach Jackson, "He can be a nice presence. He was ready to play tonight. He is progressing nicely for us in the post."
The Hornets, who had won eight straight from the Bison, made a mini run in the first three minutes of the second half and reduced the deficit to 11, but Riley, Myatt and Kirkpatrick answered to all but put the game away.
"This win was huge for us because it's another step," said Coach Jackson. "We took care of business on this (four-game) home stand. Now we have to win on the road. That is the next step for us."
In addition to the consistent scoring of Myatt and Riley of late, the Bison have shown marked improvement in taking care of the ball. After averaging over 20 turnovers per game during the first half of the season, Howard has cut that in half and committed only 10 for the game.
"We have put an emphasis on taking care of the ball," explained Coach Jackson. "Yannick (Braimbridge) and Curtis (White) have worked on valuing the possessions. That is, and has been a priority."
The win gives the Bison a 5-5 record in the conference and puts them in the thick of the race for the first time since the 2001-02 season.
"We are not surprised that we are in this position," said Coach Jackson. "We have been working to be at the top of this conference. We want to build our program so we can challenge every year. The kids are learning how to play and compete."
Frisco Sandidge led Delaware State (6-19 overall, 4-6 in the MEAC) with 17 points and 8 rebounds and Welcher added 11.
GAME NOTES: The win was the first for Coach Jackson over Delaware State in his tenure...Myatt has emerged as a strong candidate for All-MEAC honors...Riley is quietly becoming on the best all-around young players in the MEAC...the sophomore guard from Indianapolis, IN added 6 rebounds and a team-high 4 assists...the Bison held a 32-16 advantage on points-in-the-paint.
NEXT UP: The Hornets host Norfolk State on Saturday at 4 pm while the Bison will try to continue their streak when they travel to Winston-Salem State to take on the Rams of Winston-Salem State University on Saturday at 4 pm.