Howard Coach A.B. Williamson got his 100th career victory last night as his Bison broke a three-game losing streak with a 95-77 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference victory over South Carolina State at Burr Gymnasium.
The Bison (4-5, 2-1 in the MEAC) ended a two-game shooting slump by continually working the ball inside to 6-foot-11 center James Terry and 6-9 all-conference forward James Ratiff, who dominated the smaller Bulldogs (3-5, 2-1) and led Howard's 59 percent shooting performance.
Ratiff, who made five of his first six shots, finished with 26 points. Terry made nine of 11 for 18 points.
State, whose tallest starter was 6-6, played evenly with Howard the first half, but found it nearly impossible to get inside early in the second half as the Bison front line played aggressive defense and controlled the rebounding. Howard outrebounded the Bulldogs, 53-32.
The Bison took the lead for good five minutes into the game when Terry's short jumper put them ahead, 12-11. Howard led, 43-42, at halftime and steadily increased its margin behind the scoring of Terry, guard Bernard Perry (17 points) and forward Kevin Scott (12 points).
With less than a minute to play and Williamson's milestone apparent, Howard Sports Information Director Donnie Tuck sent two victory cigars down to the Bison bench.
He had been carrying them for three weeks, while the Bison kept Williamson stuck on 99 by losing three straight games.
"I had almost forgotten about the 100 wins, it was taking so long," Williamson said. "Right now, I'm happier about shaking this losing syndrome than any milestone.
"But sure, I'm happy about it. I think you become a legitimate college coach when you win 100 games."
Williamson, the dean of MEAC coaches, has a 100-74 record; he has won two conference championships in his seven years at Howard. Williamson's only losing season (9-18) came in 1975-76, his first at Howard.
Williamson and his team have encountered difficult times this season. Howard is generally acknowledged to be the most talented team in the MEAC, but has marred many of its performances with poor shooting and turnovers.
Williamson held a special meeting with his team yesterday afternoon, and last night none of those mistakes were evident.
Besides getting good play from all five starters, reserves Ed Swails (eight points) and Lawrence Norfleet (four of five shooting) were impressive.
"We wanted to get back into the winning ways," said Terry. "We took smarter, inside shots, cut down on our turnovers and other mistakes, and ran the offense more patiently. Now we have to start doing that every night."