Bison Parlay Inside Game and Good Free Throw Shooting into Win Over SC State
Washington, DC-February 7---Mike Phillips poured in 17 of his career-high 26 points in the second half and Dadrian Collins and Alphonso Leary added 19 and 12 respectively to lead Howard University to a 65-53 win over South Carolina State in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference men's game at Burr Gymnasium.
The Bison (5-18 overall, 3-7 in the MEAC) took control early and led 17-10 at the 12:08 mark. The Bulldogs (6-17, 2-8 in the MEAC), however, closed with a 19-9 run that gave them a 29-26 advantage at the break.
Howard came out in the second half and began to establish its inside presence with Phillips, Leary and occasionally Collins as they took turns posting up smaller Bulldog defenders. The result was improved shooting from the field and trips to the free throw line. After shooting only 38 percent from the floor and going to the line only four times in the first half, the Bison connected on 50 percent (11 of 22) and 19 trips to the charity stripe.
"We were not making our outside shots in the first half (2 of 9 from three-point range), so we decided to get the ball inside in the second half," explained Howard first year head coach Kevin Nickelberry. "I wanted to go through Phillips and Leary. We were able to exploit our height advantage."
Phillips was 5 for 8 from the field in the second half and Leary was 4 for 8. SC State had problems with the matchups and were forced to foul. For one of the rare times this season, the Bison were able to hit their free throws, shooting a season-best 81 percent for the game, 90 percent (15 of 17) in the second half.
"That's how you win games," said Nickelberry. "When you make free throws and don't turn the ball over, you have a chance to win."
Added Phillips, who was a perfect 10 for 10. "The free throws were big this game. We have struggled in the past but everyone stepped up tonight and we were able close out this game."
Collins, who is one of the top long-range shooters in the conference, showed versatility in his game with post-up moves and drives to the basket. He was two for four from three-point range, including a key long bomb with the shot clock winding down that gave the team some breathing room. But he was five of six from the line down the stretch.
Kyle Riley again proved to be a catalyst as he has in the past three wins in four outings. The senior guard scored six points, dealt out 5 assists and recorded three steals. More importantly, he sank all four of his free throw attempts in the last two minutes.
The undermanned Bison were able to win without a contribution from sophomore guard Anton Dickerson, who came into the game averaging 11 points, but failed to score.
South Carolina State was led by Khalif Toombs, who led his team with 13 and Omar Sanders contributed nine.
NEXT UP: SC State hosts Florida A&M on Saturday at 4 pm while the Bison travel to Greensboro, NC to take on the Aggies of North Carolina A&T on Saturday at 4 pm