Anthony Baylor capped a marvelous second-half performance, in which he scored 20 points, by sinking a fadeaway 22-footer at the buzzer to give Delaware State a 92-90 win over Howard University last night in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference opener at Burr Gymnasium.
Delaware State's Robert Hunter inbounded the ball to the 5-foot-10 Baylor at midcourt with eight seconds left. Baylor, a sophomore from Baltimore, dribbled to the left unmolested and then put up his desperation shot, which left the Bison fans grumbling and Howard Coach A. B. Williamson standing at midcourt shaking his head.
Howard, fresh off its biggest win of the season, a 58-56 double-overtime triumph at Dayton, fell to 8-5. Delaware State, playing its seventh game in 10 days, also is 8-5.
The Bison, after squandering an eight-point, second-half lead, tied the game with 16 seconds left when James Ratiff made a long jump shot. Both Delaware State and Howard took timeouts before Baylor's winning shot.
Baylor sparked the Hornets' comeback. With Howard ahead, 51-43, early in the second half, the Hornets scored 17 of the next 20 points to take a 60-54 lead. In that spurt, Baylor swished two of his high-arching 25-foot jump shots and made two steals that he converted into fast-break layups.
Howard came back with eight straight points to regain the lead, but the Bison were not content with their good fortune. Constant turnovers handed the Hornets easy fast-break baskets, including two layups following steals in the final 90 seconds.
Just when Howard seemed ready to literally throw away the victory, Ratiff and Larry Spriggs, the Bison's towers of menace, recovered from their second-half doldrums. The pair combined to score Howard's last 10 points, but Baylor's remarkable shooting and William Hill's consistent play gave the Hornets the upper hand.
Howard, which shot 72 percent and showed great poise in upsetting Dayton, last night proved it could be as sloppy as it can be spectacular. Ratiff enjoyed his specialty, the slam-dunk, five times but the Bison played carelessly and ruined numerous chances to put the game out of reach.
In the first half, Howard often threatened to break the game open, but 15 turnovers kept the Bison scrambling to stay ahead.
"There's no defense for their outside shooting," Williamson said of the Hornets, who hit 41 of 74 shots, "But we should have worn then down inside. We need that leadership. We didn't get it. We fight back good, but when we're ahead, the killer instinct is missing."
That was most evident when Howard blew an 86-80 lead with 3:48 remaining by making three straight turnovers. "That as the crucial time for us. Instead of being patient, we tried to rush the ball inside," Williamson said.