The pieces that were Howard's basketball season may yet fall into place. In their final game before the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament that starts Friday, the Bison scored an impressive 69-62 victory over North Carolina-Wilmington last night before 2,100 at Burr Gynmasium.
The score wasn't a true reflection. Howard (14-11), marked by the return of its well-publicized "Dunk Patrol," was in command most of the game. Senior forward Larry Spriggs, with 19 points, 12 rebounds and five of Howard's 11 dunks, was a dominant force.
The crowd-pleasing slams might have been an indication that this Howard team, which has struggled and been sluggish this season, is ready to give a tournament performance worthy of the raves that came in preseason.
"Our guys really believe they can winthe tournament," said A. B. Williamson, the Howard coach. "I think that if a team is going to beat us in the MEAC, it will have to play super basketball."
The Bison weren't quite super against the Seahawks (13-13), but after a month of dismal play that included losses to weaker opponents, they must be pleased with the effort.
With Spriggs scoring 13 points, Howard took a 37-32 halftime lead that could have been greater except for two things: the Bison failed to play for a last shot (helping the Seahawks score the final four points) and Howard shot only three of 10 from the foul line.
Finishing five for 14 from the line, Howard gave Williamson his only real concern of the evening. "Tonight, we were horrible," he said. "God only knows how much we work on it."
Fortunately for the Bison, their fast break and quick hands on defense offset the foul shooting. Junior guard Rodney Wright, the main accomplice to the dunkers, controlled the offense and had 14 assists.
The Seahawks made a second-half run, tying the game at 41 with 16:55 to play. But, within six minutes, James Terry, the 6-foot-11 center, had led the Bison to a 58-47 lead. The visitors never got closer than five points after that.
Terry, whose play has been less than inspired of late, played aggressively, yet under control. He finished with 13 points on six for 10 from the field, and had seven rebounds, James Ratiff had 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Bison.
The Seahawks were led by Danny Davis and Shawn Williams, with 15 points apiece.