Winston-Salem, NC---March 8--Howard University fell behind early by a 19-point deficit and then mounted a furious rally to tie the game, but in the end Norfolk State made the plays as the Bison succumbed to the Spartans, 71-61 in the quarterfinal round of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament at the LJVMC.
Norfolk State (23-9), the Number 2 seed, advances to the semifinal round where they will take on the winner of the Delaware State-Florida A&M game on Friday at 8 pm. The Bison, who were the Number 10 seed, finish the season at 10-21, surpassing their victory total of 6 last year and recording double digit wins for the first time since the 2002-03 season.
Howard competed with the talented Spartans for the first few minutes. Then Kyle O'Quinn, the MEAC Player and Defensive Player of the Year, began to take over along with sophomore guard Pendarvis Williams as they combined to score 25 of their team's 36 first half points.
The 6-10 O'Quinn was especially effective in the post area while Williams was able to provide balance with his marksmanship from beyond the arc where three of his four field goals from that zone.
It was in fact a three-point basket by Williams that gave Norfolk State a 36-17 advantage at the 3:19 mark of the first half.
The young Bison, who started four freshmen, regrouped and cut into the deficit by going on a 9-0 run to trail 36-26 at the half. Andrews, a 6-3 sharpshooter, who had been in a slump of late, began to find the range from outside with his three, three pointers.
Howard continued to scrap and claw its way back into the game as Andrews continued to hit long bombs and Calvin Thompson was able to get to the rim on drives.
A three point basket by freshman guard Simuel Frazier completed a dizzying run that saw the Bison knot the score at 54-all with 6:47 still remaining.
But the Spartans answered with a 9-0 run to thwart any attempts of Howard to win the game.
"I am really proud of the effort tonight," said Howard second year coach Kevin Nickelberry. "We were down big and could have quit. But we fought and competed. We were able to tie the game but Norfolk State is a veteran team and they did the things they needed to do to win the game. Give them credit, but I am extremely pleased with our effort tonight. It is something to build on."
Williams led all scorers with 22, O'Quinn with 18 and Marcos Tamares with 13 for the Spartans, who shot 57 percent from the field for the game.
"I thought we made the game more interesting than it should have been," said Norfolk State head coach Anthony Evans. "Howard took advantage of it and made a run, but we regrouped and did what we had to do to win."
Andrews paced the Bison with 21 while Frazier and Thompson contributed 12 and 11, respectively. Thompson also grabbed six rebounds and Frazier dealt out six assists.