"It's All About The Game"

HU can't get it done versus Savannah State






Ron Bailey, Publisher

Bison falter in clutch.


December 14, 2014 - Down five early in the second half to Savannah State, Howard and the visitors had been slugging at each other the entire contest. With both teams using zone defenses and presses more suited for slowing opponents down as opposed to causing turnovers, scoring was at a premium.

The trend continued driving Savannah State to change things up a tad, utilizing various presses such as a 1-3-1 3/4 court set backed by a man to man set and even picking up full court man, starting around 10 minutes remaining. The ultimate result was the Tiger's 54-52 nail biting win at Howard's Burr Gymnasium last night.

The win leaves Savannah State 5-12 overall, 3-0 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Howard stands 1-2 in the MEAC, 3-15 for the year.

James Daniel driving the baseline, was an offensive force.

We weren't identifying shooters", said Savannah State's head coach Horace Broadnax, when asked afterward what drove his defensive switches. He specifically identified freshman guard James Daniel as a thorn in his side, consequently "I just wanted to make it a little bit more difficult for him to take those easy shots. Try and make him burn a little bit more energy, maybe take his legs away from him". Daniel finished with a game high 17 points, canning four of eight three balls.

Though unhappy with much of his team's defensive attentiveness, Broadax did allow "when we needed to get stops, we got stops". Those timely defensive stands were crucial, as the Bison outshot Savannah State 42.9% to 39.5% overall, 46.7% on three pointers to 28.6%, and outboarded the guests 30-24.

Offensively, the Bison, coached by Kevin Nickleberry had more success against The Tigers' 2-3 zone than vice-versa, causing Broadnax to take a page from NBA playbooks - he used what those in the 'L' call 'Horns', where the set is initiated with two bigs at the elbow, and a guard driving off their cuts and pops, thereby loosening the defense.

Broadnax on that look, which the pros largely run against man defenses: "The NBA calls it Horns, but we call it Out. It's the same thing. We couldn't get any movement against the zone, because they were pretty much matching up with us. So we just wanted to kind of get a ball screen, trying to get that ball moving, get some movement going. So, it kind of helped to a certain degree".

Alante Fenner led the Tigers with 13 points, while Josh Montgomery added 12 points and a team high five rebounds; they are a freshman guard and senior guard, respectively. Broadnax lamented his senior center Jyles Smith's foul trouble, gaining five infractions and being disqualified in only 11 minutes of action. Smith did account for six points, while senior Khiry White and freshman Jeremiah Hill, both guards, each scored seven.

The Bison, by 2:27 remaining had twice equalized a second half deficit that reached five points, this time after a Daniel layup. Savannah State then got two free throws by Montgomery, Howard enjoyed one from Daniel, the Tigers another via Fenner, setting up a final chance for Howard to tie or win. Daniels's shot was off with seven seconds remaining, Howard retained possession, but junior swingman Prince Okoroh couldn't get a shot off.

Okoroh joined Daniels in double figures for Nickleberry's squad, scoring 11 points. Freshman Marcel Boyd led all rebounders with 10, and scored six points.

Up next for Howard is a home date with Maryland Eastern Shore, Saturday at 4p. Savannah State's Tigers welcome Bethune-Cookman at 6p the same day.

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