Reprinted from yesterday's late editions
Most former All-Met high school basketball players look forward to returning home to perform in front of their friends. Harry Nickens is no exception.
The former Spingarn High School sharpshooter poured in 33 points Friday night, including two free throws with two seconds remaining to lift South Carolina State over Howard University, 82-80, in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference game before 2,500 disappointed fans at Burr Gymnasium.
From the opening minutes of the contest, Nickens made the Bison arena his private playground. The 6-foot-1 senior connected on eight of his first 11 shots, pulled down five rebounds and collected three assists to keep the defending MEAC champions close at intermission, 40-39.
Bison Nathaniel Speight did a respectable job on Nickens in the second half, limiting him to five points through the first 10 minutes of the [TEXT OMITTED FROM SOURCES]$120
The Bison, getting good inside scoring from Dorian Dent and Gerald Glover, stormed ahead, 70-61, with nine minutes left. Howard maintained its comfortable lead for all of one more minute before it slowly began to fall prey to the errors that have accounted for four losses in the last six games.
The Bison went to their four-corner delay offense but the Bulldogs picked off two passes and converted both to creep to within 71-65. Glover, who finished with 24 points, sank a layup to temporarily halt the SC surge. But Marty Lane had a three-point play and Nickens slipped away from Speight for a 12-foot jumper and the Bulldogs were back, 73-70.
Howard continued to run its delay game but the Bulldogs played good defense without committing a foul. Four minutes and two more Howard miscues later, SC trailed only 78-76, with 1:45 to play.
"Same old story," said Howard Coach A. B. Williamson, who earlier had said his team has been guilty of not using good judgment or watching the clock.
Nickens then was fouled and stepped to the line to knot the game at 78 with 1:15 left.
Dent then missed a short attempt and Nickens broke free to drop in a 15-footer with 31 seconds left and give his team the lead for the first time since late in the second half.
"The difference this time (Howard beat SC earlier, 88-81, in Orangeburg) was we didn't quit. We didn't know what to expect when they went to that spread offense but it didn't hurt us," said SC Coach Tim Autry.
Dent missed another short shot, Mike Nettles' follow-up bounced off the rim and Carl Green hugged his 12th rebound. The 6-8 senior was fouled by Nettles but missed the first of a one-and-one foul situation to give the hosts another chance to tie.
Glover outleaped two Bulldog defenders for an offensive rebound following a teammate's miss and put the ball back in to tie the game, 80-80, with 10 seconds on the clock.
Nickens, who played all 40 minutes, began snaking his way up court but Nettles bumped into the guard with three seconds showing.
"I never thought about missing them," said Nickens after sinking the game-winning points.