Bernard Perry scored 15 points, including six during a crucial streak early in the period, and James Terry added team-highs of 16 points and 14 rebounds to lift Howard to a 72-61 triumph over visiting George Mason last night.
Howard led for the last 33 minutes, but it was close because of Howard's cold shooting and turnovers.
The Patriots pulled to within three on layups by Dave Skaff and Terry Henderson early in the second half. Howard, however, responded with eight straight ponts on three jumpers by Perry and a 15-footer by Rodney Wright.
The visitors never pulled closer than four after that, though the Howard advantage never increased into double figures until the final 40 seconds.
With 1:15 remaining and the score 65-57, the Patriots' Terry Henderson, whose brother, Tom, plays with the Houston Rockets, swished a 20-footer from the corner and was fouled. Henderson missed the foul shot, and teammate Greg Deegan grabbed the loose rebound, but his 17-foot attempt caught only the rim and Mason's hopes were extinguished.
Henderson led all scorers with 19 points.
Howard never jully expolited its height advantage with its front line of 6-11 James Terry, 6-8 James Ratiff and 6-8 Lawrence Norfleet, outrebounding the Patriots, 41-33. The Bison seldom allowed the Patriots a second attempt at the basket, but did not make any impact on the offensive boards.
Last year's leading scorer, 6-7 forward Larry Spriggs did not play due to calcium deposits in his left ankle.
Rodney wright and James Ratiff, Eastern High School graduates reunited with their former Coach A.B. Williamson, netter 13 and 12 points, respectively. Both showed flashes of brilliance but played incomsistently. Ratiff added nine rebounds and thrilled the crowd with three slam dunks.
The game was halted for 20 minutes after 6:08 had expired when the scoreboard malfunctioned. The score and time were kept at the scorer's table until the scoreboard was repaired with 17:12 left to play.