Rebound, cut down on turnovers and play smart baksetball are the instructions Howard University Coach A.B. Williamson will scrawl on his blackboard before the Bison's regular-season conference finale tonight.

Howard, 14-6, has not done any of the above lately and, consequently, lost its last two games and its bid to win the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference crown.

Williamson is hoping his lethargic squad can put together a cohesive effort at 8 o'clock against South Carolina State at Burr Gymnasium. A win would give Howard a 9-3 MEAC mark and at least a tie for second place. North Carolina A&T (11-1) has clinched the title and a first-round by in the MEAC tournament.

"It doesn't matter whether we're second or third. It looks like we'll play either North Carolina Central or Maryland-Eastern Shore in the first round," said Williamson. "I still think we should win the tournament, anyway."

Williamson's optimism probably stems from the improved play of his reserves, particulary 6-foot-8 MIke Pressley, 6-6 Carlton Richardson and guards Andre Byrd and Gary Adams. All four have come off the bench to provide a lift when the regulars faltered.

"In tournament play, you need nine or 10 guys. You can't expect to win by just using only the starters," said Williamson. "Pressley and Richardson have been a big plus lately and Byrd had a good game against Morgan."

In Howard's 70-58 loss to A&T and 77-33 loss to Morgan State, it was outrebounded, outshot from the field and committed a total of 31 turnovers. More importabtly, the Bison were guilty of what Williamson refers to as "not using their smarts."

"We were playing like we were two down instead of two up," said Williamson, "We've got to start playing situation basketball, watching the clock. We have to use our heads."

Gerald Glover is the Bison's leading scorer at 18.2 points per game. Mike Nettles is that team's leading rebounder (10 per game) and the only other player scoring in double figures (14.1).

S.C. State is led by Harry Nickens, former All-Met from Springarn.

In other games tonight, Gallaudet plays at Western Maryland and Prince George's CC entertains Montgomery-Rockville.