Reprinted from yesterday's late editions
Howard took advantage of a cold-shooting, turnover-plagued Catholic squad to escape with a 56-53 victory last night in the Bison's opening game at Burr Gymnasium.
Catholic, beaten by 41-points at Clemson in its opener, turned the ball over at extremely inopportune times during the game's final stages to lower its mark to 0-2.
"We had some turnovers, but so did they," said Cardinal Coach Jack Kvancz. "The real problem was our foul shooting. If we had made some down the stretch, the game was ours."
In the early stages of the game, poor field-goal shooting by the visitors kept them in the hole. Catholic made only 32 percent of its shots while missing 10 of its 21 free throws.
The Bisons did not exactly blister the nets.They shot 41 percent on field goals and 55 percent from the foul line.
"The shots we were making in practice didn't go in tonight," said Bison Coach A. B. Williamson. "We were trying to force things when they weren't there. But that was just opening-game jitters. You're always fortunate to win the first game."
Howard scored its first point of the season before the game began. Gerald (Tub) Gaskins sank a technical free throw as a result of Catholic forward Steve Dade's dunk during pregame warmups.
The Cardinals scored the next two baskets for a 4-1 lead, but Howard then ran off seven straight points. When forward Carlton Richardson sank a jumper, it gave the Bison a 14-12 lead they never relinquished.
Howard installed a clinging man-to-man full court press that began forcing turnovers early in the game. Guard Nathaniel Speight scored nine points and Richardson and freshman forward Larry Spriggs eight each in the opening half for the Bison, who got several easy baskets from their steals and fast transition game.
Thirteen first-half turnovers by the Bison was the main thing preventing them from leading by more than the 34-33 margin at halftime. Steve Dade scored 11 points and Bill Dankos 10 that half for the Cardinals.
Howard's pressure defense resulted in their steals in the first four minutes of the second at half, and Speight sank three jumpers to help the hosts take a 46-38 lead. Catholic missed 14 of its first 19 shots - the result of forcing numerous 25-foot bombs over Howard's collapsing man-to-man.
But Bison turnovers - Howard had 24 in the game - kept the hosts from extending their lead to more than six points in the final five mintues. A pair of free throws by Dade and one by Dave Butler brought Catholic to 51-48 with 3 1/2 minutes remaining.
The Cardinals went into a man-to-man defense, which prompted the Bison to slow down with a spread offense.
"At that point, they had only four team fouls, so they could give three," said Williamson. "If I don't spread it out, I'm not a coach."
Gaskins' driving layup with 2:45 left made it 53-48. Dankos hit a jumper. Gaskins missed the front end of a one-and-one with 1:38 left, but Dankos missed a gimme shot on an offensive rebound at the Cardinal end of the court.
The Bison turned the ball over but Joe Colleta gave it right back when he was called for traveling with 50 seconds remaining. Speight gave the Bison breathing room when he passed to Louis Wilson for an easy layup and a 55-50 lead with 38 seconds left.
Another traveling call on Catholic, Dorian Dent's block of a Dade jumper and one free throw by Gaskins wrapped things up for the host team. Cardinal Bill Dooley scored the game's final points with two seconds left.
The game was the last of the Howard-Catholic series.
"After a controversial game which they lost here a couple of years ago, they told us we weren't big enough for them to play anymore," Williamson said. "If they want to go big time beyond us, I wish them luck. They have a long journey ahead."