Top-seed Howard pulled away from a four-point halftime lead to post a 74-55 tournament semifinal win over fourth-seed Maryland-Eastern Shore Friday evening and claim a spot in the 2023 MEAC Championship game Saturday.
It will be the Bison’s first finals appearance since 2002 and the first for fourth-year head coach Kenny Blakeney.Players on the Howard bench stand up anticipating a basket from long range. The Bison canned 7 of 21 3-pointers in their win.
The teams played a competitive first half, but the Bison came out hot after the break, outscoring the Hawks 48-33 over the final 20 minutes.
Six-eleven redshirt junior forward Steve Settle led the way for Howard with 16 points to go along with five boards. Freshman Shy Odom matched Settles’ 16 points and paced the Bison (21-12) off the boards with 10 rebounds. Marcus Dockery added 10 points while point guard Elijah Hawkins had eight points and a team-high six assists.
As a team, the Bison shot 46% from the field 26 of 56), 33% from behind the arc (7 of 21)o, and 60% from the free throw line. Conversely, UMES canned just 18 of 60 shots (30%) including only 3 of 21 shots (14.3%) from behind the arc. Howard also had a decided 46-32 rebounding edge.
Kevon Voyles scored nine points while Chace Davis added another nine to lead the way for UMES. The Hawks (18-13) forced 20 Howard turnovers but could not capitalize.
Howard awaits the winner of the 8 p.m. contest between two-time tournament champion and third-seed Norfolk State and second-seed North Carolina Central. Before NSU’s consecutive tournament titles, NCCU won three straight titles from 2017-2019.
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