Howard Defeats Delaware State In Overtime At Big Apple Classic

By on December 15, 2013
Photo: Jesse Kramer | The Catch and Shoot

Photo: Jesse Kramer | The Catch and Shoot

In the 2013 Big Apple Classic on Sunday, Howard (3-11, 1-1 MEAC) defeated Delaware State (2-9, 0-2) in overtime, 64-62, for its first win against a Division I opponent this season.

Howard, which was without leading scorer James Daniel, blew a 13-point lead in the first half, but it erased an 11-point deficit in the second half to force overtime.

In overtime, James Miller nailed a game-winning, reverse layup with 15.7 seconds left.

Though the shot clock was off and the plan was to hold for the last shot, Miller attacked the rim when he saw an on open lane.

“We were holding the ball for the last shot, but they pressed up,” Howard head coach Kevin Nickelberry. “[Miller] is a scorer, and that’s what he came here to do — it’s what he knows.”

Howard was lights out during the opening minutes, shooting 4-of-5 on three-pointers in the first eight minutes.

The Bison stretched their lead to 25-12 at the 8:35 mark of the first half, but the script flipped when Delaware State’s Tyshawn Bell sparked a run with his two-point jumper.

Over the next six minutes, the Delaware State went on a 24-2 run to gain a 36-27 advantage two minutes before halftime.

Junior guard Kendal Williams, who entered averaging only 8.9 points per game, was dominant during that stretch, scoring 15 points on 5-of-6 shooting.

He finished with a career-high 19 points.

Howard junior Prince Okoroh responded with a pair of buckets, but Delaware State’s Kendall Gray capped off the half with a putback before the buzzer to put the Hornets up 38-31.

Both teams shot poorly for the first ten minutes of the second half, and then Howard went on a 7-1 spurt to cut Delaware State’s lead to 49-45.

Photo: Jesse Kramer|The Catch and Shoot

Photo: Jesse Kramer | The Catch and Shoot

During that stretch, Delaware State squandered a huge opportunity as Casey Walker drew a flagrant 1 foul on Solomon Mangham, but he missed both free throws. On the ensuing possession, the Hornets failed to score again.

Okoroh continued to carry the Bison down the stretch, and his layup with 37 seconds left knotted the score at 58-58.

In overtime, the Bison and the Hornets traded buckets until Miller’s layup served as the final difference.

Okoroh led all scorers with 21 points in his fourth 20-point outing of the season, and he also grabbed a career-high 16 rebounds.

“He made every big shot and he got every big rebound,” Nickelberry said. “We’ve got nine freshman, and he’s leading these younger guys. It’s good to have a kid like that.”

Despite playing 32 minutes against Fordham last night and 37 minutes against Central Florida last Wednesday, he played all 45 minutes Sunday and was the best player on the floor.

“It got to a point where I couldn’t feel my legs,” Okoroh said. “But my teammates kept telling me we had to win this one. We grinded it out.”

Throughout the second half and overtime, Delaware State struggled to find any offensive flow. The Hornets shot 21.2% from the field, 9.1% from beyond the arc, and 52.9% at the foul line.

“We should have lost by more than what we lost by,” Delaware State head coach Greg Jackson said. “When you turn the ball over, you’re not going to beat many basketball teams.”

For Howard, this victory marked its first against a Division I team this season. The Bison had lost 11 straight games entering Sunday, but they had played all but one game on the road against tough opponents like Harvard, Pittsburgh, and Houston.

“We’ve played a really tough schedule this year, and we’re the youngest team in the country,” Nickelberry said. “These guys felt it was time for them to be rewarded for all the work they put in.”

Both teams return to non-conference play this week as Howard plays at Liberty and Delaware State plays at Oklahoma State.



In the front end of the doubleheader, the Virginia Union Panthers (2-7) defeated the Virginia State Trojans (7-3), 81-69.

Both teams started slowly, and, after trading blows for much of the half, Virginia Union built a six-point lead at halftime with a 6-0 spurt capped by Avery Jirmnson’s three-point play.

The Panthers built a 14-point lead in the second half, but the Trojans fought back to within five.

With fewer than four minutes to play, the Trojans missed a huge opportunity as Allen Harris’ transition layup rimmed out and Omar Briggs converted on the other end for a three-point play.

Virginia Union stretched its lead to 10 points, and the Trojans could not get any closer than eight points the rest of the way.

“We came out a little lazy early on in this game,” said Lamar Kearse, Virginia State’s leading scorer. “The effort really was the problem with this game for us.”

Jirmnson, a New York native, and Briggs led the way for the Panthers with 19 points and 16 points, respectively.

Jirmnson had the hot hand in the first half particularly with 14 points.

Ken’ Pankey added 12 points, and Te’Quan Alers and Chadwick Church each had eight points off the bench.

Although scoreless, point guard Michael Wynn dished out six assists.

Defensively, Virginia Union held Virginia State to 32.8% field-goal shooting.

“They did a great job communicating in the defense,” Virginia Union head coach Luqman Jaaber said.

Virginia State received a high-quality performance from Christopher Grier with 18 points and four three-pointers. This was only Grier’s second outing of the season, and in his first he had scored only seven points.

Larry Savage and Kearse each added 13 points, and Harris had 10.

“Tonight, we just lost the little things — offensive rebounds, not getting back on defense.” Grier said. “We’ve just got to pick up our heads and learn from it.”

About Jesse Kramer

Jesse Kramer is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Catch and Shoot. He is a sophomore at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. He also writes for Wildcat Digest on 247Sports. In the past, he has worked as a reporter for The Daily Northwestern and a featured columnist for Bleacher Report.

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