Howard University's basketball team ended a 6 1/2-minute field goal drought by scoring nine straight points late in the second half last night and beat Florida A&M, 66-59, in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference game at Burr Gymnasium.
George Hamilton scored 20 points and John Spencer had 13 points and 16 rebounds as the Bison won the fourth game of their last five. Howard is 11-8 overall, 5-3 in the MEAC.
Florida A&M, which started a northern road trip solidly in second place in the MEAC, fell to 14-6, 8-4. Aldwin Ware's 16 points led the Rattlers, who are off to their best start in 25 years despite last night's loss and a 75-55 MEAC loss at Morgan State earlier in the week.
Florida A&M took a 54-48 lead after Terry Giles converted a turnover. Less than three minutes later, the Bison led by 59-55, Spencer scoring four points in the run.
"We had a disappointing loss down there a few days ago, and I didn't play my best because I got in foul trouble early," he said. "Tonight, we got in trouble early because we were too pumped up and wanted to blow them out. In the second half, we just had a streak where we lost our concentration. Once we got it back, we just started playing good defense again."
During the rally, the Bison forced four straight turnovers. In the closing 1:07, Howard sealed the victory with two free throws by Mike Rollins and Spencer's conversion of his own miss with 28 seconds left.
Coach A.B. Williamson, whose team lost to Florida A&M Tuesday in Tallahassee, 79-77, started the night by borrowing a page from the strategy book of Washington Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs.
Gibbs had George Rogers announced as starting running back in the Super Bowl, but instead started Timmy Smith, who set a Super Bowl rushing record.
Williamson had Ricky Gholson announced as a starting forward, but sent out Spencer. The latter hadn't regained his starting job since hurting his right knee in the sixth game of the season.
He responded by scoring Howard's first six points, stabilizing an otherwise sloppy first half in which the Bison had 11 turnovers. He helped Howard take a 21-11 lead with 12:50 left, but the Rattlers came back on a 12-2 spurt to tie the game at 23 with 7:06 left.
Howard took a 36-35 halftime lead as freshman center Tyrone Powell made a free throw with four seconds left in the half.