Howard solidified its second-place finish in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference by pulling away from a cold-shooting University of Maryland-Eastern Shore in the second half last night for a 77-61 victory before a Burr Gymnasium crowd of 2,000.
The Bisons (15-11 overall, 9-3 in the conference) will be seeded second and have a first-round bye in next weekend's MEAC tournament at the Palestra in Philadelphia.
The Bison played with their leading scorer, sophomore guard Fred Hill, benched for violating team rules. But they opened an early lead on the shooting of George Hamilton and Mike Hampton.
Hamilton had 13 first-half points and Hampton contributed eight in that half as they consistently made jumpers from the corner, finding the seams of the UMES 1-3-1 zone defense.
UMES (3-23 overall, 2-9 MEAC) hung close on the shooting of the league's leading scorer, senior point guard Donnell Boney. He had eight points by intermission, 18 for the game. Hampton ended with 18 and Hamilton 17.
UMES, playing without its leading rebounder, Alan White, was outrebounded by 48-29. White became ill before the game.
In the second half, Howard put together a 20-8 run in the first eight minutes to take a 52-33 lead. The lead went to 61-39, Howard's largest, on a jump shot by Hampton with 6:08 left.