Washington, DC—December 15—Howard University parlayed some solid second half defense with scoring from Calvin Thompson, who tallied 11 of his 13 points in the second half and Simuel Frazier, who contributed 8 of his 12 after intermission to defeat Liberty University 60-53 in a non-conference game at Burr Gymnasium.
The Bison (3-8) used a 15-1 run over the first eight minutes of the second half to erase a seven-point halftime deficit and take a 40-33 lead. Thompson and Frazier led the charge, but they benefitted from some stingy defense. Switching to a trapping zone, Howard forced the Flames (1-9) into several turnovers while allowing only one field goal and a free throw during the run.
"We changed from a man-to-man to a zone defense in the second half and it proved to be very effective," said Howard Coach Kevin Nickelberry. "We were able to use our length and it helped cut down on the threes. It definitely changed the tempo." After connecting on 5 of 14 from beyond the arc in the first half, Liberty missed 8 of 12 in the second stanza.
Liberty refused to go away, however, and made it interesting when it put together an 8-2 run over a two-minute span to get to within 54-53 with 44 seconds remaining.
But the Bison defense regrouped and toughened up, holding the visitors scoreless the rest of the way. Thompson, Mike Phillips, Frazier and Tre Lee combined to make plays that gave Howard its second win in the past three games.
"There is no secret to what we want to do," said Nickelberry. "We are going to go through Thompson and Phillips and Frazier is the one who is going to get them the ball in good situations. People second guessed me when Sim was making turnovers early in the season. But I never stopped believing in him and now it is paying dividends." Frazier recorded 6 assists and zero turnovers in 38 minutes of play. It marked the second straight game that he has not had a turnover and moreover, he has 19 assists and only three turnovers on the past three games.
Phillips, who is playing the best basketball of his career, led all scorers with 19 while Thompson tallied 13 and Frazier with 12. Alphonso Leary was again a forced on the defensive end with 10 rebounds while Tre Lee scored four clutch points in the second half.
The Flames were led Davon Marshall, who scored 8 of his team-high 13 in the first half and Casey Roberts, who added 11.
Despite being out rebounded, the Bison came away with a 32-12 advantage in the paint.
NEXT UP: Howard travels to Corvallis, Oregon to take on Oregon State on Wednesday at 10 pm Eastern Time and will then trek back to the East Coast for a game against Rutgers in New Jersey on Friday at 7 pm.