PRINCESS ANNE, Md. — There were some lofty expectations surrounding the Howard Bison this season, and many had them tabbed as a favourite in the MEAC.
However, with star guard James Daniel only appearing in two games thus far in 2016-17, the Bison haven’t looked like the team many thought they could be.
Coming into Saturday’s tilt against the Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawks, the Bison were riding a five-game losing streak, and were sitting at 3-13 on the year. Daniel played in the previous two games, both of which were losses for Howard, but he didn’t play against the Hawks.
Eastern Shore fell to the North Carolina Central Eagles in their last outing, and they split the two games on their North Carolina road swing to open MEAC play. Back home on their home floor, they were hoping to snag a win from the Bison and build some positive momentum.
The Bison took an 11-point lead at the half, and stretched their advantage to as many as 18 points in the second. The Hawks cut the deficit to just four with under four minutes to play, but Howard would hold on down the stretch for the 74-66 victory.
At the break, the Bison held a 35-24 lead over the Hawks, and they came out in the second half looking to put the game away early.
Howard opened on a 9-2 tun to push their advantage to 18, at 44-26. James Miller highlighted the run with a dunk and a layup to keep the momentum squarely behind the visitors.
However, the Hawks weren’t about to roll over and concede the victory in their MEAC home opener. Eastern Shore continued to push back, and gave themselves a chance to win as the game came down the the closing minutes.
With 3:56 to play in the game, a layup from Logan McIntosh brought the Hawks back to within four points, at 64-60. That was as close as they would get the rest of the way, as Howard pulled away again to maintain their lead and seal the win.
A layup from Damon Collins with under a minute left gave Howard a 70-62 lead, putting the game on ice. Despite being without Daniel due to an ankle injury, the Bison came away with the 74-66 victory over Maryland-Eastern Shore.
It was a poor-shooting night for the Hawks, as they finished the game shooting just 32.3% (21-of-65) from the field in the loss.
Bakari Copeland scored a game-high 19 points to go along with 10 rebounds for another double-double performance. Ryan Andino was held without a field goal on the night, going 0-of-6 from the field, finishing with just 3 points.
Due to various injuries, the Bison were limited to just eight scholarship players on Saturday afternoon. Charles Williams scored a team-high 17 points, while James Miller added 16 in the win.
Solomon Mangham and Marcel Boyd pulled down 10 rebounds apiece.
After a two-game winning streak to open the New Year, the Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawks (4-14, 1-2) have dropped their last two MEAC contests. They return to the court on Saturday, when they head on the road to take on the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats.
The win snapped a five-game skid for the Howard Bison (4-13, 1-1). They will look to make it two straight victories on Monday afternoon, when they welcome the Coppin State Eagles to town.
– T. Bennett