Howard basketball hosts President Obama in 84-74 loss to Oregon State

First lady Michelle Obama gives a thumbs-up as daughter Sasha and President Obama share a laugh during halftime of Oregon State's win over Howard.
First lady Michelle Obama gives a thumbs-up as daughter Sasha and President Obama share a laugh during halftime of Oregon State's win over Howard. (Mark Gail/the Washington Post)
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By Kathy Orton
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, November 28, 2010; 12:06 AM

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There had to be times during Saturday afternoon's game when Howard Coach Kevin Nickelberry looked up into the stands and wished he could put President Obama or Education Secretary Arne Duncan in the game.

Nickelberry could have used Obama, who looked none the worse after taking an elbow to the mouth in a basketball game Friday and receiving 12 stitches in his lip, and Duncan, the former Harvard standout. The Bison, who have been savaged by injuries this season, were desperate for bodies when two players fouled out of the game.

Though undermanned, Howard was undaunted. The Bison put up quite a fight against Oregon State before finally succumbing, 84-74, before 1,827 at Burr Gymnasium.

"That's a good team. It's a Pac-10 team," Nickelberry said. "We stayed close. We battled, but the bottom line is we had two or three walk-ons [on the court] down the stretch."

Obama - who was joined by his wife, daughters and mother-in-law, all wearing Oregon State orange - came to watch his brother-in-law, Beavers Coach Craig Robinson. This was the third college basketball game Obama has attended in the District as president. Last season, he went to George Washington, also to watch Oregon State, and attended the Georgetown-Duke game at Verizon Center.

From the tip, the players seemed a bit preoccupied by Obama's presence. Both teams combined for 10 turnovers in the first five minutes.

"I was kind of shocked when I saw him, a little nervous," said Bison sophomore forward Dadrian Collins (Montrose Christian). "This is my first time seeing him in person. It was a good experience. We were a little too excited, wanted to make plays."

Oregon State (3-2) settled down first. The Beavers, taking advantage of Howard's zone defense, sank back-to-back three-pointers to take a 19-11 lead.

Then the Bison (1-5) found their poise, using a 9-0 run to take a one-point lead. Collins (15 points, seven assists) keyed the surge with one of his three three-pointers.

The teams traded baskets until the end of the half with Howard going into the locker room with a 33-32 lead.

In the second half, Oregon State appeared ready to run away with the game, going up 64-50. But Howard wouldn't go away.


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