John Spencer completed two one-and-ones in the final 11 seconds as West Virginia State preserved its lead throughout the second half to beat Howard, 86-83, in the Bison's season opener at Burr Gymnasium last night.
Casey's last two free throws came with six seconds left and gave the Yellow Jackets (2-1) an insurmountable lead.
If it had come down to a last-second shot, the 600 spectators wouldn't have known: The clocks weren't working. Installation of new clocks could not be completed in time, but the coaches agreed to play, with the official time kept on the sideline.
Howard Coach A.B. Williamson didn't offer it as an excuse. "They played under the same conditions we played under," he said. "They're an NAIA school, but they're big-time. I'm proud of the way we played, and I think we're off to a fine start."
West Virginia State's 7-foot center Ron Moore and 6-6 forward James Washington each had 24 points. Mike Hampton led the Bison with 16 and John Spencer had 14.
With approximately one minute left, Howard's Fred Hill hit a jump shot at the top of the key to close to 80-79. West Virginia State's Ronnie Legette made the front end of a one-and-one.
The Yellow Jackets' Moore blocked Spencer's shot the next time the Bison came down the court.
Casey was fouled with 33 seconds left and hit the first of a one-and-one. Spencer made two free throws to pull the Bison to 82-81 with 26 seconds remaining.
But Casey, handling the ball almost exclusively in the final seconds, was fouled and made two free throws with 11 seconds left.
Spencer's offensive rebound and follow shot made it 84-83. Casey gave the Yellow Jackets their final lead when he hit two free throws with six seconds left.
West Virginia led, 42-34, at the half. Moore scored 13 points and Washington 12.
The Bison made only four of nine free throws in the first half and 27 of 42 for the entire game. "With about eight minutes to go in the first half, they had a spurt," said Hampton. "Our inability to hit free throws hurt us the whole way."
With about six minutes left in the game, West Virginia State held its biggest lead, 75-63, before Howard started chipping away.