Howard won its third Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference basketball championship in five years last night, running past Maryland Eastern Shore, 84-71, in the season finale at Burr Gymnasium.
Bernard Perry had 25 points and 10 rebounds and David Wynn finished with 21 and 10 rebounds as Howard had no trouble improving to 16-8 and 10-1.
The Bison will be top-seeded in the MEAC tournament March 3-5 in Greensboro, N.C. Howard plays its final two games at Morgan State Thursday night and Delaware State Friday night. UMES fell to 9-18 and 6-6.
Before the game, Howard's only two seniors, Perry and point guard Gino Warner, were given standing ovations and presented Bibles by Coach A.B. Williamson.
Last night, UMES could have used some divine intervention.
The shorter Hawks, whose tallest starter was 6-foot-6, stayed close in the first half mainly because of the shooting of guard Allen Faulks, who had 14 of his 26 points in the first 20 minutes.
For a hot minute, it was Faulks against the balanced Bison. Faulks scored 12 of his team's first 18 points, including a long jumper to give UMES a short-lived 18-16 lead with 10 minutes to play.
The hosts, led by the long-range shooting of Perry, then slowly put UMES away.
Perry had nine points and Derek Caracciolo had five during a 26-14 run that sent Howard ahead at intermission, 42-32.
"Right now, my shooting is at its peak," said Perry, who made 10 of 19 field goal attempts, eight of them close to three-pointers in anyone's league.
"I'm not uneasy at all when I shoot. We had a lot steals tonight and hit the open jump shot like we should have been doing all season."
The Bison opened with a rush in the second half. Wynn had six quick points, Warner had a breakaway and Caracciolo scored inside. Kevin Scott made a short jumper along the base line as Howard opened an 18-point lead with just over 11 minutes to play.
"We felt like we wanted to clinch it (championship) tonight," said Williamson.
"I'm very pleased with the performance because it was our last home game.
"We want to keep our momentum these last two games. I'm very happy we're going into the tournament with no uneasiness."
UMES, which made only 24 of 73 from the field, used a slow tempo in an earlier 47-41 loss to Howard.
But the Hawks got in a running game against the Bison and that was a major mistake. Except for Faulks, no other Hawk scored in double figures.
Williamson finally cleared his bench--two players--and there was more cause for celebration. Ousmane Ba, the 6-8 freshman from Dakar, Senegal, scored his first career basket in the final seconds.
It was that kind of night.