By: Joe Dillard Jr
In the MEAC Championship, number one seed Howard Bison faced off against 2-time reigning MEAC Champion the number three seed Norfolk State Spartans. Norfolk State came out early showing they were ready and prepared for this opportunity and had a 7-0 lead. As Howard fought back to regain the lead both teams battled back and forth throughout the first half. Meanwhile, 2-time MEAC Player of the Year Joe Bryant Jr. was scoreless. Dana Tate led the Spartans early with 15 points in the first half going 3-5 from three-point land. However, Howard ends the half on a 9-0 run to take the lead 33 to 27 led by 6’10 wing Steve Settles and guard Jelani Williams. In the second half, Norfolk State started to hound Howard defensively fighting and clawing their way back into the game.
A pivotal point in the game where NSU grabbed a rebound and a jump ball was called instead of a foul giving Howard five attempts to score but only came out with one point. After another defensive stop, Bryant hit a tough baseline floater to regain the lead 60 to 59. After a couple of possessions, Bryant hits two free throws to go up 64 to 60. Marcus Dockery who has hit a three in 18 previous games hits his first three in the game to stretch it to 19 games which were very clutch as that brought the score from 64 to 63. After an inbound turnover by Norfolk State, Howard converted on two free throws to dethrone the reigning champs as Howard now can go Dancing well into March. Joe Bryant Jr, who was held scoreless in the first half, erupted in the second for 18 points but needed to match the game-high scorer Jelani Williams who had 20 points as Howard makes its third appearance in the NCAA tournament. This is Howard’s fourth MEAC Championship and Jelani Williams was the tournament MVP.