Washington, DC—January 29--Kyle Riley scored 14 of his season-high 22 points in the second half and Dadrian Collins added 11 of his 18 after intermission to lead Howard University to a 77-73 win over Maryland Eastern Shore in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference men's game at Burr Gymnasium. The win snapped a nine-game losing streak for the Bison (3-17 overall, 1-7 in the MEAC), who notched their first conference win of the season.
The two teams played nip and tuck in the first 20 minutes, using different styles. The Hawks (4-16 overall, 1-6 in the MEAC) got most of their scoring from the sizzling outside shooting of Hillary Haley (13) and reserve Mark Robertson (11) who combined for 24 of their team's points on a perfect 5-for 5 from three-point range.
Howard countered with one of its more balanced attacks of the season, as Riley (8 points), Mike Phillips (8 points), Collins (7 points) and Anton Dickerson (5 points) teamed to help the Bison take a 34-31 lead to the locker room.
With freshman center Alphonso Leary establishing himself inside and Collins and Riley chipping in with key baskets, the Bison were able to flex its way to its biggest lead of the game at seven points twice during the second half.
But Haley put his team on his shoulders and UMES rallied to tie the game at 73-all with 21 seconds remaining on a long three pointer by Roberston and layup by Kevin White.
Riley, the only senior on the young Bison squad, took the inbounds pass on the ensuing possession and made a strong drive to the basket to give Howard a 75-73 advantage with 14 ticks on the clock.
The Hawks quickly pushed the ball up the court and had two attempts to tie the game, but Leary came up with a big block on the second attempt that fell into the hands of Dickerson, who scored on an uncontested layup as the clock expired.
"We had to get a quick bucket so I attacked the rim and got to the basket before they could set up," said Riley, who connected on 4 of the 5 shots he attempted in the second half. "With this being a four-game home stretch, this was an important game for us." Riley added three assists and two steals in 39 minutes of play.
During the recent losing skid, the Bison have been plagued by foul trouble, the ability to score points, especially in the second half, and poor free throw shooting. Howard was able to do a better job in all three areas and it proved to be the difference.
"We call it the three Fs," explained Howard head coach Kevin Nickelberry. "Free throws, fouls and frustration. We were able to overcome those tonight."
He continued, "For a guy who has never played point guard, Kyle is doing a great job for us. He is getting more and more comfortable. We need him to continue to play that way. As for Dadrian, he is our best free throw shooter and he did a great job of getting to the foul line." For the game, Collins converted on 8 of 9, including hitting all four in the final two minutes.
Nickelberry also pointed to the play of Leary, who finished with 14 points, four rebounds a key block.
"Alphonso was dominant during the time he was in there," said Nickelberry. "It was when he got into foul trouble that we struggled a bit."
Howard hosts Delaware State on Monday at 8 pm in the second of a four-game home stretch.
"We fed off the energy of the crowd," said Nickelberry. "They gave us a lot of energy. That is important since we are a young team and we lack depth. It was definitely a factor tonight."
Hillary led all scorers with 29 while Robertson tallied 17 off the bench.