GAME NOTES: The Mid-Eastern Atlantic Conference Tournament's final first-round matchup will take place on Tuesday night at Norfolk Scope Arena, as the 11th- seeded Howard Bison tangle with the sixth-seeded Delaware State Hornets.
The winner will advance to Thursday's quarterfinal round to face third-seeded Hampton.
Howard's season has been a struggle from the very beginning, as it went just 7-23 in the MEAC and sits with a 7-23 overall record. The Bison closed out the regular season with losses in five of their last six games, including a 56-53 home loss to Delaware State in their season finale on March 2.
As for Delaware State, it spent much of the season as one of the MEAC's better teams, but it faltered down the stretch by dropping four of its last five games. The Hornets finished up their league campaign at 8-8 and they are 13-17 overall.
Delaware State beat Howard twice this season, but Howard still leads the all- time series, 50-48.
Howard built a three-point halftime lead in its regular-season finale, but it faltered down the stretch as it was eventually handed the three-point loss. The squad shot less than 34 percent from the field, and it wasn't helped much by its showing at the foul line (11-of-20). Mike Phillips led the way with 16 points and six rebounds, while Calvin Thompson and Prince Okoroh added 12 and 11 points, respectively. On the season, the Bison actually play outstanding team defense, holding foes under 60 ppg, but their downfall has come by owning the MEAC's worst scoring offense (51.8 ppg), which ranks above only Grambling State nationally. Phillips is the top scorer with 11.6 ppg and rebounder with 6.9 per contest, and after missing 15 games this season, Thompson's (10.5 ppg) return to the lineup has certainly been welcomed.
After building a 10-point halftime lead in its regular-season finale, Delaware State coughed up that lead after intermission and was eventually handed a 62-60 loss by South Carolina State. Casey Walker poured in 18 points, but he did so on just 3-of-12 from 3-point range. Tahj Tate scored 17 points, while Marques Oliver added 13 points, seven rebounds and four steals in the setback. The Hornets also have a poor scoring offense, but at 59.4 ppg they are much stronger than Howard, and they benefit in crunch time from the MEAC's third- best free-throw percentage (.688). Tate is the leading scorer with 12.6 ppg, but he has been off the mark from 3-point range all season at just 27 percent (27-of-100). Oliver averages just 8.9 ppg, but he hauls in 6.8 rpg and is a difference-maker at the defensive end with 2.0 bpg and 1.8 spg.
Despite Howard's strong defense, it has been held back by its woeful offensive attack. As a result, and just as they did during the regular season, the Hornets shouldn't have much trouble stinging the Bison.
Game Date and Time