James Ratiff scored 15 second-half points and reserve Kevin Scott added 12 as Howard ran past Delaware State, 84-68, in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference game last night at Burr Gymnasium.
Ratiff, a 6-foot-8 forward, was nearly unstoppable against the shorter Hornets, who did not have a starter taller than 6-5. During one minute and a half stretch, Ratiff scored seven straight points on back-to-back breakaway dunks and a three-point play to give Howard a 64-51 lead with eight minutes left. He finished with a game-high 27 points on nine-of-18 shooting and was nine of 11 from the free-throw line.
But it was the play of Scott that was a pleasant surprise for Howard Coach A.B. Williamson. The 6-5 sophomore from Baltimore came off the bench in each half to supply the Bison with strong rebounding.
"Kevin gave us a big lift, particularly with his rebounding and spirit," said Williamson. "Although James played well, I thought that the play of Kevin was the key." In addition to his 12 points, Scott grabbed 11 rebounds in his 24 minutes of play.
Despite having a decided height advantage (6-8, 6-10, 6-8 across the front), Howard held only a 17-15 rebounding edge at the half. But 50 percent shooting (12 of 24) gave Howard (1-0 in the MEAC, 3-2 overall) a 37-27 halftime advantage. The Bison outrebounded the Hornets (0-1, 2-2) by only a 34-30 margin for the game, but a 70-percent shooting performance in the second half gave Howard a decided advantage.
Delaware State cut the Bison lead to 39-33 early in the second half on the shooting of guard Jeffrey Gumbs, who tallied 12 of his 14 points in the half, all coming from 20 feet out and further.
Following a timeout, Bernard Perry (12 points), James Terry (14 points) and Rodney Wright (11 points, eight assists) scored two baskets each and the Bison opened up a 61-47 lead with 6:50 to go. During that stretch, the Hornets, who rarely took a shot inside 10 feet, went cold, missing six straight shots.
"We modified our defense a little," explained Williamson. "We brought our zone out a little higher to force them to shoot from a little further out. Once they started missing, it opened things up for us."