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Howard Men’s Basketball Soars Over District of Columbia at the Mecca Season Opener

At the Tuesday night season opener for the Howard Men’s basketball team, Bison gathered in Burr Gymnasium to witness the 87-59 win over the District of Columbia (UDC).

Freshman Guard (3) Elijah Hawkins bringing the ball up the court. Photo Courtesy of Jon Musselwhite.

At the Tuesday night season opener for the Howard Men’s basketball team, Bison gathered in Burr Gymnasium to witness the 87-59 win over the District of Columbia (UDC).

Before the season opener, Howard played two exhibition games. For UDC, this was the first game played of the 2021-22 year.

The starting five for the Nov. 9 game was 6-foot-4 guard Khalil Robinson (0), 6-foot-10 forward  Steve Settle, III (2), 6-foot-7 forward Randall Brumant (20), 6-foot-3 guard Tai Bibbs (33), and 6-foot-4 guard Bryce Harris (34). 

The District of Columbia won the tip to begin the game. Both teams struggled in the first couple of minutes to score as the offense was still getting on track. After the first points of the game were scored by UDC, Howard came back down the court quickly and got on the board. 

Early in the game, Harris worked both sides of the court offensively and defensively. He then made back-to-back steals and layups, giving the Bison a lead early in the half. 

Coach Blakeney substituted early in the game with five in and five out, creating a new lineup. He did this continuously throughout the entire game. “One thing our team has is depth and when all of our guys are healthy we can play 10 to 12 easy. So knowing tonight that UDC had a limited bench and we’re playing in 22 hours, it was a way to wear UDC out and also preserve as much energy as we could in preparation for tomorrow,” Blakeney said. He emphasized the fact that in less than 22 hours the team would be back on the floor for another game, which is a very quick turnaround. 

Throughout the first half, Howard played aggressively and capitalized on turnovers from UDC, resulting in points for the Bison. Defensively, the Bison forced UDC into 16 total turnovers which resulted in 17 points for Howard.

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Going into halftime, the Bison were up 48-28. Key players Kyle Foster and Elijah Hawkins had 11 and 10 points each going into the half. No Bison player played more than 11 minutes.  

Howard kept the lead through the second half, scoring 39 points led by freshman Hawkins, who scored a total of 23 points and added five assists in the season opener. Fan favorite Hawkins had many crowd pleasing moments, and led the team in both points and assists. After missing the two exhibition games, Hawkins said, “6:30 in the morning, we are in the gym just working hard, and even in the gym hours before class working hard,” this helped him soar through the season opener game and keep the energy up. 

With an even distribution of minutes for each player, the Bison brought a total team effort and got contributions from each player throughout the night. Howard’s bench brought in a total of 55 points. 

As Howard prepares to take the floor again tomorrow night, Coach Blakeney mentioned Mike Riley as he described his accomplishments, and explained that Riley is one of his greatest inspirations. “I talk to our team about standards and my expectations but also about recovery. I wanted them to go home and get off their feet, eat, and get to bed before 11:30 so we can get ready for tomorrow because it’s going to be a quick turn around,” Blakeney said. 

The Howard men’s basketball team will meet Regents in Burr Gymnasium on Nov. 10 at 5:00 p.m. with hopes of getting their second win of the season. 

Copy edited by: N’dia Webb

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