The enigma that is the Howard basketball team answered no questions last night, despite beating West Chester (Pa.) State, 88-79, at Burr Gym.
Two Bison starters, point guard Rodney Wright and forward Larry Spriggs, face uncertain futures because of medical problems. Wright, the junior playmaker, left the game early after his right shoulder popped out of joint as he attempted a long downcourt pass. And spriggs, although he scored 18 points and had 11 rebounds, was suffering from back spasms.
"I think we are a pretty good basketball team, but we still have to find ourselves," Howard Coach A. B. Williamson said. "We haven't found our identity yet. And with these injuries, it might take a little longer to find our niche."
Bison guard Bernard Perry found his own niche, scoring a career high 26 points, 18 in the second half.
The 6-foot-5 sophmore was 10 for 12 from the line and made four straight free throws after West Chester Coach Earl Voss was slapped with two technicals with 9:26 remaining. That gave Howard a 66-51 lead. About a minute later, Voss received his third technical foul and was ejected. a
The Bison (7-5) led, 45-38, at halftime, as James Ratiff scored 13 of his total 17 points. The Rams (3-6) were kept in the game by freshman Kevin Givens, who scored 18 points on nine for 11 shooting.
Givens was neutralized in the second half by the defense of Ratiff and finished with 26 points. Randy Alter, the Rams' 6-foot-9, 255-pound center, had 18 points and guard Rich Gillam 16.
The Rams twice closed within five points early in the second half. But consecutive steals and dunks by Spriggs and Perry broke the game open as Howard took a 58-47 lead with 12:28 to go.
Little used Gino Warner and Andre Byrd filled in for Wright at the point, and showed their inexperience.