Bison Are Slow Going, Can't Find Fix for Rattlers

By Marc Carig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Less than two minutes into the game last night, Howard Coach Gil Jackson called time out and lit into the Bison. While his bowtie and vest made Jackson look grandfatherly, the sound of his voice bouncing off the walls of Burr Gymnasium made it obvious that he wasn't in such a nurturing mood.

Jackson admonished his players for taking -- and missing -- three straight three-point shots to start the game. And while the coach's volume gradually went down as the night went along, the problem never went away as Howard fell, 65-53, to Florida A&M in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference matchup.

The Rattlers used various zone defenses to contain Howard, one of the conference's top scoring teams. The Bison shot 29.7 percent from three-point range while taking 37 of 56 field goal attempts from beyond the arc.

"We started off shooting threes and not making them and a lot of that was fatigue," said Jackson, who is missing several players because of injury and illness.

Howard started cold, missing its first nine three-point attempts despite some open shots. The slow start proved too much to overcome, especially since the Rattlers made the Bison pay a heavy cost for the long-range misses by outrebounding Howard 47-21.

While Howard attempted to win the game from the perimeter, the Rattlers stuck with their strength and did the bulk of their scoring inside.

Forward Rome Sanders scored a game-high 23 points on 10-of-13 shooting because the Bison failed to find an answer for the 6-foot-8 senior, who spent the majority of the evening camped on the low block.

"We didn't establish any inside presence," Jackson said.

Darek "Skip" Mitchell led the Bison with 12 points, all from three-point range. Darryl Hudson added 11. Howard (7-12, 3-4) dropped its fourth game in the last five.

A pair of Darryl Hudson free throws with 16 minutes 10 seconds left put the Bison ahead 5-4 in the early going, but the Rattlers (11-9, 6-2) jumped ahead to stay on an inside basket by Sanders two minutes later. The Bison then went scoreless for six minutes and without a field goal for seven minutes, missing six three-pointers in that span.

Howard trailed 36-24 at intermission.

The Bison trimmed the lead to eight points with 12:23 left in the game behind a 9-0 run ignited by a Dominique Davis three-pointer, but Howard scored just three points over the next seven minutes. The Rattlers pushed the lead to 17 during the dry spell.

The Bison played without Eugene Myatt, who missed his eighth game since suffering a severe high-ankle sprain. He was second on the team in scoring (16.6) when he went down. Howard is 2-6 without Myatt, who Jackson said is sidelined for at least two more games. Howard was also without starter Jeron Smith, who is fighting back pain, and key reserve Curtis White, who has a broken foot.

The injuries, Mitchell said, have had a noticeable effect, especially because Jackson prefers to play as many as 12 players.

"I don't think we're physically fatigued," said Mitchell, who played 31 minutes. "I think, like coach said, we're mentally fatigued, just knowing that now you have to play a lot of minutes."

ยท LADY RATTLERS EDGE LADY BISON: Junior guard Q'Vaunda Curry and freshman guard Marke Freeman each scored 19 points to lead visiting Florida A&M (11-8, 7-1) to a 75-71 victory over Howard (1-16, 1-6). Curry, reigning MEAC player of the week, also recorded game-highs with 13 rebounds and five assists.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company