Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good, as Howard found out last night.

Sylvester Parson's offensive rebound with one second remaining resulted in the free throw that lifted South Carolina State to a 54-53 victory over the Bison in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference game at Burr Gymnasium.

The Bison, who trailed by eight points in the second half, used a tight man-to-man defense to force a five-second call against the Bulldogs with 1:11 to play and Howard trailing, 53-51. Howard, which called time out with 57 seconds left, ran a play that sprang Mike Hampton for a 17-foot jumper to tie the score at 53 with 47 seconds left.

South Carolina State ran the clock down to five seconds before Ralph Miller tried an off-balance jumper from the right side. Parson, surrounded by four Bison, controlled the rebound and was fouled by George Hamilton with one second to play. Parson made the first of two free throw attempts to raise the Bulldogs' record to 9-11 overall, 5-3 in the MEAC.

"We made them do exactly what we wanted them to do, take a bad shot," said Howard Coach A.B. Williamson. "But the ball just bounced to them. I thought the kids worked real hard in the second half. That man-to-man defense really got them moving. We just couldn't make the big play to get us over the hump."

South Carolina State led at halftime, 33-25, by shooting over Howard's one-two-two zone. Dennis Williams and Miller each had eight points before halftime, 14 of their 16 points coming off 16- to 18-foot jumpers. And when the Bulldogs got inside, Parson provided the scoring with eight points.

Howard opened the second half with a 12-4 run that tied the score at 37 with 13:50 remaining. Fred Hill and Hampton each scored six points in the spurt.

But the Bulldogs countered with an 8-0 run to build a 45-37 lead.

Trailing, 47-39, Howard scored the eight points to tie at 47 with 4:23 to play. Hamilton and Robert Jones had four points each in that run.

But Howard could not take the lead. Parson hit both ends of a one-and-one to put S.C. State ahead; Jones hit a field goal to tie. Duane Melvin's jumper put the Bulldogs on top; Robert McIlwaine's two free throws tied. Then Derrick Baker's basket with 2:35 left gave South Carolina State the 53-51 advantage.

" . . . The thing to do is bounce back and get ready for George Mason (on Wednesday)," said Williamson.

Parson led the Bulldogs with 19 points, 11 rebounds and four assists. Miller also had 12 points.

For the Bison (11-10, 6-3), Hill had 17 points and Hampton and Jones had 10 each.