Bison Give Valiant Effort But Fall To Undefeated American
The Eagles (5-0), who are off to their best start in 25 years, came out of the blocks early, taking a 9-0 lead on the long-range bombing of Brewer and Moldoveanu. The young Bison, who started three sophomores, a freshman and junior walk-on, were unable to keep pace with the experiences Eagles, who led by as many 16 points at one point before taking a 37-23 lead at halftime.
"American set the tone early," said Howard University first year head coach Kevin Nickelberry. "We tried to set up some plays and get into some sets. We missed a lot of layups and you can't do that against a team like AU."
In the second half, Howard (1-4) began to scrap and claw its way back into the game on the scoring of Phillips, Collins and Kendall Salley. AU, which shot 45 percent in the first half cooled off under the pressure of the Bison's changing defenses and Howard was able to capitalize, reducing the deficit to seven points and a workable margin on two different occasions.
"We made some adjustments and gave them some different looks on defense in the second half," explained Nickelberry. "That gave us a chance to get some stops and force some turnovers. We are playing with a lot of young players and that (the inability to capitalize) is what you are going to get."
Howard, which is missing its top two players, junior guard Calvin Thompson and senior guard Kyle Riley to injuries, missed some easy shots and Brewer, Moldoveanu and Stephen Lumpkins made them pay with some key baskets and free throws down the stretch.
"AU was the better team tonight," admitted Nickelberry. "There is a reason they are 5-0."
Phillips, a 6-7 sophomore forward, tallied 10 of his 11 points in the second half while Collins, a 6-6 sophomore guard, tallied 7 of his 11 after intermission. Kendall Salley, a 6-1 freshman walk-on guard, scored a career-high seven points while freshman guard David Naves contributed a career-high nine points.
"Naves came in and played hard," said Nickelberry. "I had to tell him to stop thinking so much and just play. He gave a good effort."
The sharpshooting Brewer finished with a game-high 24 points, 21 coming on 7-of-13 shooting performance from beyond the arc. Moldoveanu tallied 19 and Lumpkins added 14 for the Eagles.
NEXT UP: American hosts Columbia University on Sunday at 2 pm at Bender Arena while the Bison host Oregon State University on Saturday at 4 pm in Burr Gymnasium.