Howard University picked on outmanned Bethune-Cookman last night for the second time in 10 days, dominating play inside in the second half en route to a 79-61 MEAC victory before 2,300 at Burr Gymnasium.

In a virtual replay of their 16-point defeat of the Wildcats in the first game, the Bison had little problem improving their conference record to 6-3 and overall mark to 9-9. Bethune-Cookman is 2-5, 6-13.

Howard's Ed Swails, getting a rare start, scored a career-high 16 points, James Terry had 19 points and 12 rebounds, Bernard Perry had 16 points and Rodney Wright a dozen and nine assists.

Coach A.B. Williamson said he was more than pleased with the effort because his team played very well without the conference's leading scorer and the team's leading rebounder, 6-foot-8 senior James Ratiff, who has sprained knee ligaments. Williamson also cited the absence of forward Kevin Scott, pulled back and groin muscle, as a major reason the Bison had lost three of their last four.

"We aren't frustrated because we know why we lost them," Williamson said. "We don't know when either Ratiff or Scott will be back. It's a day to day thing with both of them. But we need J.T. (Terry) to do the things he did in their absence. You noticed we pushed him, went to him a lot and he was looking for his shot."

Terry, who had a five-inch height advantage on his defender, easily scored several times on layups or dunks. He and Swails accounted for 16 of Howard's 25 points at the start of the second half when the Bison expanded a seven-point lead to 20 points, 66-46, with just over six minutes left.

"Without Ratiff, I know I have to score and go to the boards more," said the 6-11 Terry, who had been averaging nine points and eight rebounds. "What's been hurting me has been foul trouble. If I stay away from fouls, I can play my game."

Bethune-Cookman, which found itself tied at 25 thanks to the jump shots of Jarvis Smith (14 points) and Robert Wallace, ran out of breath and 18-footers in the second period.

"Everyone got in the flow and did a good job," said Swails. "Terry took up the slack in Rat's place and we hit our open shots."

Bethune-Cookman's defense all but disappeared when Terry slammed in two shots. The Bison, outrebounded by three the first 20 minutes, controlled both boards after intermission and forced the Wildcats to throw up long jumpers. Bethune-Cookman made only 27 of 73 shots, Howard 36 of 73.

"We still should have rebounded better, even with a shorter team," Williamson said. "They got too many second shots out there. We got some good play from people who usually come off the bench. We'll need that when the tournament comes around."

Howard, still hoping to win the MEAC, is two games behind North Carolina A&T. The Bison can gain ground Monday night when they host Florida A&M.