Bright lights and ground breaks have been embraced by Howard University for many years and the school’s community always shows up big behind the Bison. The university’s first ever Pride Night was no exception, as the Bison faithful came out with electric energy to support the men’s and women’s basketball teams on their way to a dominant victory against South Carolina State University.
First up was the women’s game against an SCSU team that has been absolutely deplorable so far this season as they came into Howard’s Burr Gymnasium Monday evening with a 1-18 overall record. The Lady Bison did not fall into the trap of playing down to their competition, and cruised to a blowout win, as the final game score was 67-35.
The Lady Bison continued their recent execution on the defensive end as they improved their winning streak to three games. Howard suffocated the Bulldogs, holding them to 25 percent shooting from the field and 15.4 percent from beyond the arc to complement their 20 forced turnovers. Junior guard Destiny Howell, who has been on a tear recently, led the way in the scoring department once again with a game-high 20 points. 6-foot-2 sophomore forward Marissa Steele anchored the defense with a game-high three steals and a block to go along with her five rebounds.
“If I couldn’t do anything else I made sure to rebound and play hard. My teammates do a great job with talking and staying in gaps on the defensive end. When we work together everything flows,” Steele told The Hilltop.
The men’s game would see similar success for the Bison, however the men displayed excellence on the other end of the court. The Bison produced their second highest scoring output of the season as they tallied 100 points in their 26 point victory against South Carolina State University. The Bison shot an efficient 61.8 percent from the field and 57.1 percent from three-point range on their way to finishing with six players in double figures. The scoring explosion was led by 6-foot-9 forward Jordan Wood who scored a game-high 18 points including four three-pointers.
Sports writer and senior at Howard University, Mekhi Abott shared his thoughts on the win. “I saw great team play from top to bottom…our starting squad all scored in the double figures and each shot at least 45 percent from the field, meaning we were very efficient. This is a very good team, not just for the MEAC but in all of D1 college basketball. They are tied for first in the division and they should get some serious tournament consideration.”
With the win, the Bison extended their win streak to six games and improved their conference record to 7-1 which is tied with Maryland Eastern Shore for the best record in the Mid Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC).
Aside from the performance by Howard athletes in the doubleheader of home games, there were equally captivating proceedings inside the arena as a part of the school’s first ever Pride Night. Howard partnered with the Human Rights Campaign HBCU Programs Division and together, they were able to produce and distribute tons of swag and merchandise that will allow students to show their support for the Pride initiative.
The halftime intermission for the men’s game included a grand performance from special guests sporting tremendous pride in their eccentricities during their production in spirit of the theme. The guests were members of House of Balenciaga, a ballroom house that was featured on the second season of the HBO Max original “Legendary.” Many spectators draped in their free “Howard Pride” shirts, “Bison Pride” water bottles, or pride themed tote bags stood and roared at the display that ended just before the teams came back onto the court. In an interview with The Hilltop, Mekhi Abott raved about the execution of the theme.
“I think it was dope to see the LGBTQIA+ community get recognition on that level. You had dancers performing vogue during halftime which is a good thing because a lot of dancing trends stem from vogue and they hardly get the credit they deserve. Even a spectator joined in.”
Both spectators and athletes were able to feel the special energy that was in Burr for Pride Night. Forward Marissa Steele detailed her experience from the night as a player.
“The atmosphere was incredible! I loved seeing everyone come together as one for something so special and historic. You could literally feel the love and acceptance all throughout the crowd. As someone a part of the LGBTQ+ community … it felt like a big family gathering in a way. We all got to celebrate and experience it together!”
Copy edited by Chanice McClover-Lee