The South Carolina State Bulldogs chances of snapping their 23-game conference-losing streak fell short, as Howard's second-half surge led by Prince Okoroh's 17 points and 10 rebounds led the Bison to a 57-45 victory Monday at Burr Gymnasium.
South Carolina State falls to 4-17 overall, 0-8 in the MEAC, while Howard improves to 5-18 overall, 2-7 in the league.
Senior forward Mike Phillips added 16 points and nine rebounds in the Bison victory. Freshman forward Darryl Palmer led the way for SC State with 11 points and five rebounds.
"We just didn't make the shots needed down the stretch to win the game," said head coach Tim Carter. "I thought we had a real good chance but we just didn't get it done."
SC State controlled most of the first-half jumping out to a quick 16-6 lead off a jumper by sophomore Devin Joint at the 10:56 mark. A three-pointer by guard Anton Dickerson cut the lead to six, with 8:39 remaining in the half.
Palmer's driving layup with 3:24 left gave the Bulldogs their biggest lead of the half 11, 27-16. Howard's Phillips and Okoroh nailed back-to-back jumpers in the closing seconds to pull within five, 29-24. The Bulldogs led 29-24 at the half.
The Bison opened the second half on fire sparking a 15-8 run led by guard Brandon Ford to tie the game, 39-39 at the 7:01 mark. Howard took the lead, 42-39, for the first time of night off a three-pointer by guard Tre Lee.
Free throws seemed to be the deciding factor down the stretch as the Bison knocked down pair from the charity stripe from Okoroh and Boyomo to extend the lead to seven, 46-39. Junior forward Matthew Hezekiah's rebound followed by a layup pulled the Bulldogs within seven, 51-44 with less than 0:54 seconds remaining.
Guard Brandon Ford and forward Mike Phillips knocked down the free throws needed to secure Howard a 57-45 victory over South Carolina State. The Bison had a tremendous night shooting from the charity strip knocking down 16-of-20 (80%) on the night.
Howard out-rebounded SC State down the stretch 43-35, while both teams committing a season low in turnovers with SC State at nine and Howard at six. Junior forward Matthew Hezekiah finished with a season-low eight points and seven rebounds.
"Bottom line is we have to keep pounding and work every day to get better," said Carter.
South Carolina State will return to action on Saturday when they hit the road to take on Savannah State in a 4 p.m. showdown.