Depleted Bison Lose Another Player to Injury in Loss to Norfolk State
Norfolk, VA—February 14---The Howard University men's basketball team, which has lost several key players to injuries this season, had to play the entire second half without leading scorer and rebounder Mike Phillips and it proved to be a key factor as the Bison fell, 76-68 to Norfolk State in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference men's game at Echols Hall.
Phillips, a 6-7 sophomore forward, who came into the game averaging almost 14 points and seven rebounders per game, had seven points and was just beginning to find his scoring comfort zone when he limped to the bench with an ankle injury with less than a minute left in the first half.
The Bison (5-20 overall, 3-9 in the MEAC) competed despite being undermanned and trailed the Spartans (8-16 overall, 6-6 in the MEAC ), 36-26 at the half on the strength of Kyle O'Quinn's 10 points and Rob Hampton's nine.
Phillips received treatment at halftime and came out to test the ankle, but head coach Kevin Nickelberry decided to not risk further injury.
Without one of its key components, Howard battled with Norfolk State and despite falling behind by 17 at one point, the Bison rallied on the scoring of freshman center Alphonso Leary, who tallied 13 of his career-high 17 points before fouling out. Leary, who played his prep ball at nearby Maury High School also grabbed eight rebounds and had two blocked shots as he played before a throng of family and friends.
Each time Howard would get within striking distance, the Spartans would get key baskets from O'Quinn, Hampton and from reserves Pendarvis Williams and Rodney McCauley. Norfolk State appeared to have the game in hand when it opened a 13-point lead late in the second half.
But the scrappy Bison refused to wilt and Kyle Riley and Dickerson fueled a run that cut the deficit to seven with two minutes left in regulation. But the Spartans were able to put the game away at the foul line down the stretch when Howard was forced to foul.
The storyline for the Bison all season has been a lack of production from the bench and this game was no different. The Spartans bench held a whopping 33-6 advantage.
Leary and Dickerson both finished with 17, Collins added 11, all coming in the first half and Riley contributed 10 and five assists while logging 40 minutes.
The Spartans were led by Hampton, who led all scorers with 21, O'Quinn with 20 off the bench and Williams and Pauline with 11 and 10, respectively.