Missed Free Throws and Turnovers Doom Howard In Loss To Hampton
Washington, DC—January 12—Howard University missed some key free throws and made some untimely turnovers down the stretch that allowed Hampton University to escape with a 51-49 victory in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference men's game at Burr Gymnasium.
After Prince Okoroh converted two free throws to give the Bison a 49-44 lead with 2:29 remaining, the Pirates crawled their way back into the game with some help from Howard.
Alphonso Leary missed two free throws that would have increased the Bison lead to seven. With a chance to capitalize on the Howard missed chance, Hampton reciprocated by turning the ball over. It would have proven to be an important possession, but Simuel Frazier turned it over on the Bison's next possession.
Hampton's KeRon Brown then made one of two to make it 49-45 with a little under two minutes left. Frazier was fouled on the Bison's ensuing possession, but he missed both attempts, giving the Pirates hope with 1:42 remaining.
Hampton's Emmanuel Okoroba then scored a basket with 1:22 remaining and after the Bison failed to score on their next possession, Okoroba made a three-point play to give Hampton a 50-49 advantage with 34 ticks left on the clock.
The Bison missed yet another opportunity when they turned it over on the inbounds possession and set up Deron Powers, who hit on one of two from the charity stripe to make 51-49 with 27 seconds remaining.
Howard again failed to score on its next possession and Hampton had a chance to make it a two-possession game, but DuVaughn Maxwell gave Howard life when he missed both free throws with 18 seconds left.
Despite the missed opportunities, the Bison still had one more chance but Brandon Ford turned the ball over as Howard failed to get off a shot, allowing the Pirates to eke out the win.
The Bison, who came into the game shooting over 68 percent as a team missed 12 of 21 attempts in its worst free throw shooting performance of the year.
"We had our opportunities, but you have to make free throws and you cannot turn the ball over," said Howard Coach Kevin Nickelberry. "Free throw shooting is a big part of the game and tonight we missed too many. And it did not help that we turned the ball over at some inopportune times."
With senior leader Calvin Thompson out with a foot injury, Nickellberry was forced to go with senior Mike Phillips and four sophomores. So when Phillips fouled out as one of of only two seniors, it impacted the outcome.
"When Mike went out with his fifth foul, it changed the flow of the game," explained Nickelberry. "He and Calvin are our go-to guys as veterans and when Mike went out, it really hurt us in terms of what we wanted to do. We have young talent out there, but we have to learn how to close out these games."
Powers of Hampton led all scorers with 14 while Ramon Mercado contributed 10 off the bench.
Howard was led by Phillips and Frazier who each tallied 11, Okoro who added 10 and Anton Dickerson, who came off the bench to contribute 8. Leary added 6 points, 9 rebounds and a career-high 5 blocked shots.
The Bison have little time to lament over the disappointing loss. They face the Spartans of Norfolk State on Monday at 7:30 in a nationally televised game at the Burr.
"This is a very resilient group," said Nickelberry. "We will bounce back. We will have practice tomorrow and focus on Norfolk State. I am confident that this team will be ready to play on Monday."