Howard basketball drops MEAC opener

WASHINGTON – Howard University men’s basketball team came up short in their Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) opener, falling to the Norfolk State (NSU) Spartans, 77-74, inside Burr Gymnasium.

With the loss, HU dropped to 6-7 (0-1 MEAC) while the Spartans (11-4) remain unbeaten in league play (2-0).

Despite shooting only 41-percent (23-of-56) from the field, Howard connected on 10-of-25 from downtown after being away from the hardwood for three weeks.

“Obviously, there’s going to be some rust of not playing for three weeks,” said Howard men’s basketball head coach Kenneth Blakeney after the game. “But that doesn’t matter because we still have to compete. All the credit to Norfolk State because they did what was needed to win.”

Freshman guard Bryce Harris (Brentwood, N.Y.) drilled a three-pointer off an assist from fellow classmate Elijah Hawkins (Washington) and gave the Bison a six-point advantage at the 12:55 mark, 15-9.

Norfolk State fought back and took its first lead of the game after a jumper from Joe Bryant, Jr. with more than six minutes remaining before intermission, 29-27.

With just over a minute left before halftime, graduate Kyle Foster (Hampton, Va.) made a trey ball and pulled the Bison within one, 33-32, but NSU closed out the period on a quick 5-0 spurt to take a 38-32 lead at the break.

In the second half, Hawkins found a cutting Deven Richmond (Bowie, Md.) for a layup to tie the contest at 52 apiece, but the Spartans would score 10 unanswered points and hold its largest lead of the game with more than 10 minutes remaining, 62-52.

Down, but not out, the Bison clawed their way back. HU erased the double-digit deficit in a matter of moments and took its first lead since the opening minutes after a pair of freebies from redshirt sophomore Steve Settle, III (Glenarden, Md.), 69-68.

“We played our rust off,” Blakeney stated after trailing by double digits in the second half. “If we play like that in those last 12 minutes, we give ourselves to win every time.”

Norfolk State outlasted Howard in the final two minutes, outscoring the Bison, 9-5.

Foster led the Bison, falling just short of a double-double (22 points & nine rebounds). Fellow classmate Tai Bibbs (Chicago) added 14 points and five boards while Settle netted 12 points in the loss.

Bryant had a game-high 24 points for the Spartans.

Featured Image Caption: Howard University graduate student-athlete Kyle Foster scored 22 points in the Bison’s loss to Norfolk State. Courtesy of Howard University Athletic

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