Morgan State 53
Howard went on a 20-2 run early in the first half and rolled to a 74-53 victory over Morgan State last night before 1,046 at Burr Gymnasium.
The game was not much for aesthetics -- the teams combined for 34 turnovers, 41 fouls and generally poor shooting -- but Howard Coach Frankie Allen was pleased with his team's performance.
"Some might call it an ugly game," Allen said. "It was a physical game, but we need to get bumped and played physically. We need this type of game from time to time."
Howard (6-13, 4-6 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) had few problems with the Bears (4-16, 3-7), getting a balanced attack led by Kyle Williams (19 points), Seye Aluko (16) and Ron Williamson (12). The Bison's performance was workmanlike more than dominant.
Allen had been concerned with Howard's slow starts of late, so the Bison opened the game by pressing after every made basket, which produced four consecutive three-pointers from Williams with no answer from Morgan State. The initial run gave the Bison a 24-6 lead with 11 minutes 18 seconds left in the first half.
"We were playing catchup from then on," Morgan State guard Randy Dukes said. "We were rushing the game too much, instead of taking every possession step by step."
The Bears trailed 40-18 at halftime and never pulled closer than 16 points in the second. Dukes scored 17 points and Samuel Brand added 12, but no other Morgan State player had more than seven points.
"They beat us in every aspect of the game you could possibly think of," said Morgan State Coach Butch Beard, the onetime coach of Howard and the New Jersey Nets. "They wanted us really badly, compared to what we did. Frankie had them very well-prepared."
The Bison needed the victory to keep an outside shot at a first-round bye in the MEAC tournament, which is awarded to the league's top four teams. Howard is in sixth place, trailing fourth-place Delaware State by three games.
"Hopefully, we can try to get some chemistry with this group," Allen said. "It's all about getting better at this point."
Allen found a silver lining in freshman point guard Louis Ford's eight-point, eight-assist, four-turnover performance. Ford, who returned three games ago after a nine-game suspension, allows Williams and Williamson to shift to their more natural wing positions.
"It's about getting him back into the flow," Allen said. "He frees them up to do what they do best."