MLK Holiday Hoops Weekend
The Howard University Men’s basketball program had an eventful Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. They started by traveling to Norfolk to play the back-to-back MEAC tournament champion Norfolk State Spartans. NSU is a beast at home and were riding a 19-game home winning streak. NSU held a double-digit halftime lead, which stretched to 16 at its highest point. The Spartans were led by MEAC preseason player of the year, Joe Bryant Jr. Bryant poured in 23 points. The Bison got contributions from multiple positions, with four different players reaching double figures. Notably, Jelani Williams scored 18 off the bench and Marcus Dockery had a career-high 24.
The Bison dug themselves a hole early on but continued to fight in the 2nd half. Spurred by sharp shooting and ball movement, HU battled all the way back and took a one-point lead with less than ten seconds remaining after Williams scored the go-ahead basket. Bryant quickly answered. In the frantic finish, NSU left their bench and was assessed a technical foul. Hawkins sank his two free throws and Williams added one more as NSU attempted to foul their way out of trouble. The remarkable victory marked the first time the Bison had won against the Spartans since 2019, and NSU’s first conference loss of the season.
While there was another game looming on the MLK holiday, the Men’s team had its most important matchup on Sunday---with several packs of diapers. Before the season, Coach Kenny Blakeney challenged his team to find a community service project that they were passionate about and to get involved. The team selected Mamatoto Village. Mamatoto Village is an institution that is devoted to Black women on their maternal journey; “…through the creation of career pathways in maternal health; and providing accessible perinatal support services...” The team and volunteers packaged 80 postpartum kits, 80 lactation kits,50 adult/baby hygiene kits and 30 household essential kits. Additionally, they wrapped 7,950 diapers and organized materials for four hours on Sunday morning following the game. The commitment to community after a grueling contest is testament to the team’s integrity and the coach’s leadership. They are truly living up the “leadership for America and the Global community” creed of Howard’s mission. Please consider donating your time or money to Mamatoto Village. With the state of Black maternal health in this country, it is a worthwhile investment.
There was one more event that needed attending to before the weekend was over. In order to properly celebrate MLK day, it was necessary to absolutely annihilate his alma mater, Morehouse College. The Bison were happy to oblige. The Burr was standing room only and the energy was palpable from the opening tip. Every turnover or near miss was met with sounds from the crowd that could only be described as primal. The fans wanted this win, and the Morehouse faithful that came onto campus to support their team gave as good as they got. The energy led to a frantic and frenetic pace early on, with both teams turning the ball over and fouling at high rates. HU settled down a bit after the under 12-minute timeout. A deluge of HU threes, keyed by drive-and-kick action, separated the two squads early.
By the time halftime came around, the lead had expanded to 17. A 40-23 score was as close as it would get in the second half. The route was on, and the party in Burr was jumping. On top of the threes, the Bison took care of the ball—they only had four turnovers at halftime. Howard employed full-court pressure and sped Morehouse up in their offense, completely ruining their pace of play. The 89-65 score was an afterthought by the time the game ended. It also marked a 2-0 performance against the men of Morehouse, including the 31-0 drubbing the football team took in September of last year.
The Bison take on the top of the MEAC in their game against Morgan State on Saturday January 21st. Back-to-back conference wins over the top two teams would put the conference on notice that the Bison are going to be a problem this season.