In its first three games this season, Howard University relied almost entirely on its defense. Last night, the offense did its part.

John Spencer scored 24 points and four other players finished in double figures as the Bison defeated Central State (Ohio), 96-77, in the first meeting between the two teams before 750 at Howard's Burr Gymnasium.

Spencer, who also had a game-high 13 rebounds, got plenty of help as Jeff Holloman had 22 points, including four three-pointers. Howard Spencer, John's brother, had eight points and 12 rebounds. George Hamilton scored 13 points and Rocky Gholson 11.

James Manuel led the visitors with 20 points.

"This team {Central State} was a one- two-pass team and did a lot of penetrating," Howard Coach A.B. Williamson said. "And they tried to press so it was an up-tempo game and we were able to score a lot of points. We still have some people who are not doing the things we want yet, but we saw some good things.

"We wanted to cut the turnovers in half and keep the teams outside. We weren't able to do that all game but we did get more people in on game conditions. I was pleased because we did get some positive things out of this game."

Howard matched its average of 20 turnovers, but had a 57-36 edge in rebounding and didn't give up any three-point field goals.

Unlike Monday night's one-point victory over Baptist College in which they fell behind early, the Bison (3-1) took control against the winless Marauders (0-7) early. John Spencer dominated the inside, scoring his team's first six points on layups, and Holloman connected on his four three-pointers as Howard stretched a 6-0 advantage to an 11-point edge midway through the half and led, 51-36, at intermission.

Spencer had 15 points and Holloman 12 as the Bison shot 54 percent from the field and outrebounded the Marauders, 25-14.CENTRAL STATE Min FG FT R A PF T Diop 5 1-4 0-0 0 0 1 2 Bryant 14 2-5 1-2 3 0 3 5 Gibens

15 1-6 2-2 0 2 4 4 Willi

Halftime: Howard, 51-36.

Three-point goals -- Howard 4-6 (Holloman 4-4, Gholson 0-1, Hamilton 0-1).

Technical fouls: Powell.

Attendance: 819.