St. Francis 88,
Howard Men 67
In the final seconds of the first half of Howard's home opener yesterday, Kyle Williams's and Louis Ford's jumpers both met with the same result -- an audible smack by St. Francis (N.Y.) center Chris Sockwell. In similar fashion, Sockwell's Terriers muscled past the Bison, 88-67, before 840 at Burr Gymnasium.
"For the most part, they just out-toughed us," said Howard guard Ron Williamson, who finished with 32 points.
All five Terriers starters scored in double figures, including 20 points apiece from guards Tory Cavalieri and Bronski Dockery.
On defense, they concentrated on stopping small forward Williams, the Bison's leading scorer, who finished with 10 points.
Howard started a larger lineup for the second consecutive game, pairing the 6-foot-6 Williams and the 6-1 Williamson in the back court. In lieu of 5-6 freshman point guard Ford, Howard Coach Frankie Allen started 6-6 walk-on forward Seye Aluko to increase its rebounding presence.
That big back court has Williams handling the ball, and while it worked effectively at times last season, Williams finished with eight turnovers yesterday.
"To be honest, that might have played into our hands a little bit at the beginning," St. Francis Coach Ron Ganulin said. "We came out to pressure them, and they didn't really have anybody who could handle the ball the whole time out there."
The bigger lineup did little to deter the Terriers inside. St. Francis out-rebounded the Bison 37-27, blocked six shots and largely kept the Bison guards from penetrating. That effectiveness surprised even Ganulin -- the St. Francis front line had not been that imposing before, having been outrebounded in each of its first three games.
"At times, we had our runs where we showed some toughness, but they took it to us most of the time," Williamson said.
St. Francis (2-2) used its outside shooting to build an early 17-point lead, and the Bison (1-4) never recovered. Williamson's outside shooting was enough to avoid a blowout, he could never get the Bison close enough to make a run.
St. Francis raced to a 19-2 lead five minutes into the game, making three-pointers on five of its first nine possessions. Allen said his team never was able to get untracked after that.
"We were really playing uphill the entire game," Allen said. "It put us behind the eight-ball early, and we didn't get out in time."
Williamson scored nine points in a 13-0 run that pulled the Bison to 69-59 with six minutes remaining in the game. But a three-pointer by Cavalieri stopped Howard's momentum, and the Bison never got closer after that.