Derek Carraciolo tipped in a missed shot with two seconds to play and Howard upset heavily favored defending NIT champion Bradley, 73-70, last night before 2,100 at Burr Gymnasium.
In scoring one of its biggest victories ever, Howard (2-0) trailed all game before rallying on the superb shooting of senior guard Bernard Perry, who scored 22 of his 27 points after intermission. Perry, making shots from the 18- to 22-foot range, sank five straight shots at one point as the Bison began chipping away at a 13-point lead with 13 minutes left.
Bradley was ahead, 70-63, after Voise Winters, who had 18 points, scored on a turnaround jumper from the side with 3:50 to play. Howard's man-to-man pressure then took its effect on the Braves.
After forcing a turnover, Charles Johnson drew a foul from Braves guard Eddie Mathews, who slammed the ball to the floor in frustration. A technical foul was called, Johnson made one of two one-and-one free throws and Perry sank the technical foul free throw to cut the deficit to 70-65 with 3:08 left.
"I just didn't believe that call," said irate Bradley Coach Dick Versace. "My guy said he didn't say anything and he gets a tech. I know we played well enough to win. We led by seven and suddenly the game was no longer in our hands."
Howard took possession after the technical foul and Perry sank a 15-foot jumper from the corner to make it 70-67 with 2:30 to play. Bradley had lost its poise. Sensing victory, the Bison got the ball back when guard Barney Mines was called for an offensive foul for running over Perry.
Kevin Scott, one of several Bison reserves to play well, got inside for a layup and the score was 70-69.
After the Braves called a timeout, they lost the ball again on a five-second violation. The Bison played for the last shot.
"Bernard was supposed to come off a pick for the shot, but they went into a zone and he couldn't get the shot he wanted," said Howard Coach A.B. Williamson. "The guys did the rest on their own. I was going to call a timeout with seven seconds left but it didn't come down to that."
That was because the ball went inside to Carraciolo, who tried a turnaround half-hook. The ball bounced off the rim and a gang of Bison and Braves slapped it against the glass. Carraciolo, a 6-foot-8 freshman, went up again and tipped it in.
"I had been hollering at him all night to jump in there," said Perry. "Not really hollering, but encouraging him to jump. When he missed that shot, he went right back after it."
The Bison began to celebrate when Winters tried to call a timeout. Bradley had used all its five and another technical foul was called. Perry made both free throws and the game was won.
"The guys wouldn't quit," said Williamson. "Bradley went away from some things, offensively, that worked real well in the first half, and we were able to overplay and cause some turnovers. Our bench came in and did a very good job."
Bradley still got the shots it wanted in the second half and held a comfortable lead until Perry remembered this was his gym and started making his shots from the outside. He brought the Bison back and Carraciolo gave them a victory.